Mar 182009

A view of Prince of Peace Church’s interior, featuring confessional doors from St. Mary Church.

By Celine Klosterman

CLINTON — Nature advocates and people with accessibility concerns will likely find Prince of Peace’s new church the parish’s friendliest building.

As Catholics walk through the zero-step church, they cross recyclable carpet and exposed concrete floors that help store solar heat passing through skylights and nearly ceiling-high windows. An energy consultant reviewed the church’s use of energy-saving features such as occupant-sensing light switches, high-efficiency mechanical equipment and good insulation, said Randy Milbrath of RDG Planning & Design, the architectural firm for the church.

Green and lead-colored paint on the church’s exterior, designed to reflect colors in nature, includes low levels of volatile organic compounds. Bold blue colors the church’s ceiling, and red denotes worship areas.

Come warmer weather, Catholics entering the church will be surrounded by native prairie grasses and flowers, said Milbrath. Trees line a path through the parking lot to the front entrance.

Above that entrance, a stained-glass image of Jesus surrounded by harmonious animals and a child, as described in Isaiah 11, greets parishioners. Brother William Woeger, liturgical consultant, developed the concept for the window.

Inside the church, a ramp offers access to the sanctuary platform. The ambo’s reading desk can be removed so children and people in wheelchairs can serve as lectors.

Milbrath said the church seats about 600, but seating can be added for another 200 people.

Though modern, the building embraces Prince of Peace’s history. The corpus on the crucifix from St. Boniface Church in Clinton was restored and placed on the cross behind the new church’s altar. Candlesticks from St. Patrick Church also found a place at the altar. Restored, mid-1800s Stations of the Cross from St. Irenaeus Church hang on the new church’s walls. And refurbished pew ends from St. Mary Church were used as pew ends in the new building.

Those pew ends, as well as a new altar, ambo, chair and tabernacle, reflect the Eastlake Victorian style of the new church, according to Prince of Peace. That style also was featured in St. Irenaeus, St. Boniface, St. Patrick and Sacred Heart churches in Clinton.

The building also includes a Blessed Sacrament chapel, which has eight sides to reflect the eighth day of creation — Jesus’ resurrection and eternal life, said Milbrath. Exposed, hammer-beam, wood trusses crown the ceiling over the tabernacle, which stands in the chapel’s center.  The chapel also features a floor tile used elsewhere only at the sanctuary and baptistry.

The church doesn’t include a rectory, but Prince of Peace plans to buy a house to replace the old, three-story rectory currently used at St. Mary Church. To help fund the purchase, antique furnishings from St. Mary’s rectory will be auctioned at 10 a.m. March 28 in Central Catholic Auditorium.

A parish hall and possibly a gym/auditorium will be built later, said Father Tony Herold, Prince of Peace’s pastor. The parish currently uses St. Boniface Hall for events.

“Our new church is truly unique, a one-of-a-kind building found nowhere else in the United States,” Fr. Herold wrote in the parish’s bulletin. “It should be a true source of pride for our community.”

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