Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Catholic churches of Stratford

Immaculate Conception Parish, Stratford

St. Joseph Parish, Stratfor
On Friday, September 10, Meelyn, Aisling, my husband and I spent several hours of free time just driving around Stratford and looking at different places of interest. Two places we were automatically drawn to were the Catholic churches in Stratford, the enormous St. Joseph parish and the smaller Immaculate Conception. Both churches were lovely in their different ways.

St. Joseph was mind-boggling to those of us who attend humble little plain parish churches where the actual church isn't even built yet and Mass is celebrated in the building that will someday be the youth center. St. Joseph was a striking combination of pumpkin and apricot, baby blue and deep navy, which might sound completely hideous, but it wasn't. It was gorgeous. I love the way the sunlight was coming in blindingly bright in my photograph, right over the crucifix and the tabernacle. I took that picture from not even halfway up the aisle in the nave, so this is a big, big church. We tried to keep our exclamations of admiration very soft and quiet, as there were people coming in and out to pray. We prayed as well, so as not to give the impression that we were just gawking tourists who had come in to gape at their architecture, completely unmindful of the presence of the Son.

Immaculate Conception also had its share of pray-ers in the pews, so we were very quiet there, too. But honestly, both churches were just too beautiful not to take a few pictures. Immaculate Conception is very sweet and pretty and reminded me of my home church, St. Anne in New Castle, the one that was burned down and has since been rebuilt. It smelled faintly of beeswax and incense, as churches should, and an elderly man praying in a pew looked up from his devotions and smiled at us indulgently as we all breathed an "Ohhhhhh..." of delight and then genuflected before taking out our cameras.

In a couple of years, my husband and I hope to make our Stratford tour a three-night trip, a Thursday-through-Sunday excursion that would require Mass attendance in Stratford on Sunday morning before we all left to drive home. We picked up bulletins and other literature in each church, noting the staggered Mass times for those who prefer the Saturday vigil Mass and those who like to rise early on Sunday morning, or for those who prefer to sleep a little later. It looks as if attending Mass at either of these parishes will be a treat for the eyes as well as the soul.


Shauna said...

Is it an uncommon thing to have that many Mass times? All the Catholic churches Doug and I have been to have had Saturday vigil Mass at 4:30pm and Sunday Mass at 8:30am, 10am and 11:30am. From Waterloo to Toronto they've all been the same. I thought it was just a normal Catholic thing, but I have no idea! Maybe it's a Canadian Catholic thing. ;)

My favorite part of looking at new churches is seeing how beautiful they all are. The St. Joseph picture reminds me of St. Luis in Waterloo.

Kayte said...

In a couple of years, I am coming with you. Beautiful churches, thanks for sharing!