The spirit

By Anna Griffin

Early Saturday mornings, faithful locals gathered together to worship. They sang together as always, and celebrated the gospel as best they could, always experiencing the same gratitude and admiration for their continually practiced faith. By the quality of the experience, one would picture their place of worship as a large, spacious building, equipped with stain-glass windows and a magnificent echo.

This however, was not the case for St. Vincent de Paul parish attendants. For five weeks, St. Vincent High School allowed the parish goers to hold their sacred services within the small confines of the high school’s auditorium, while the parish was renovated. Masses ran as planned and smoothly, attesting the thought that even outside of the confines of the church walls, spiritual experience can thrive.

            “You know the nice thing was this – we all realize that the church is a building,” Father Lombardi, St. Vincent de Paul Pastor said. “But, actually, the church is the people. So wherever you celebrate, the church gathers, even though we were fixing up our house. The [building] is a house for the church.”

            Although Tillman Hall doesn’t equate accurately to the quality and elegance of the parish, their ability to feel a spiritual presence was not impaired by their facilities.

“I think they key to having a spiritual experience is the people – the community, because it is the foundation of church and it is what makes church really special,” MJ Lozano, member of Youth Ministry Club said. “You get so many different personalities and you have people from different backgrounds that just come together because there is a common belief and that makes them grow spiritually.”

Although the building itself has little to do with the spiritual growth, the quality of the parish appeals to another aspect of worship.

“People have always been proud of the church because it is very pretty,” Father Lombardi said. “It just helps them be more proud and the interior now matches the exterior.”

The church’s improvements added a new liveliness to the building, making it brighter and possibly a more appealing place to worship in.

“The pews had been terribly scratched and worn so we sent them out and they took them all the way down to the original wood so they’ve been refinished and they look beautiful,” Father Lombardi said. “We also painted the church. Its much warmer, the colors are much prettier.”

Other changes were made including the addition of a new carpet, wider pews for comfort, opening space in front of the pews, extension of the sanctuary, new alter furniture, a new heating system, and, by the new year, a new sound system will be implemented.

“Its much more welcoming. Its very warm,” Father Lombardi added. “The church feels friendlier. Cozy is a good word, it feels cozy.”

            Just as the parish renovations have worked to invite more people in to worship, students in the Youth Ministry Club have worked to advocate a community of experimenting with religion at the high school.

            “The Youth Ministry club basically wants to show kids that don’t really know about religion activities that let them be involved with church to help them define the beliefs they want to have and what the church really teaches and how they can be involved in the church,” MJ Lozano added. “So what we want to do is have those kids do fun things like L.A. Youth Day because it’s a fun way to experience religion.”

*This article was originally published in the SVHS student newspaper, The Onlooker.