POMPTON LAKES, N.J. — An elegant tumbled travertine floor replaces worn carpeting and Old World stonework graces the sanctuary at the newly-renovated St. Mary’s Church here.
The renovation was unveiled on Palm Sunday, according to pastor Kevin Downey, OFM, who was happy to report that the project was funded by “unexpected gifts” to the parish and not with budget finances.
“The project has been on my wish list for a long time,” wrote Kevin in a recent parish bulletin.
The interior design was supervised by Fred Dilger, OFM, who ministers at St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia. Fred, an interior designer before joining the Franciscans, has a knack for enhancing worship spaces, and was able to extend the initial work started approximately 10 years ago by former pastor Michael Carnevale, OFM, according to Kevin.
Fred said he let the space “speak to him,” before embarking on any design ideas.
“As with any project, one has to let the space speak and tell you what it wants and can take,” he said. “How many times have you seen an outfit in a store that you loved but knew you could never wear it in a 1,000 years? Spaces are like that, too. In approaching this project, I simply wanted to enhance some of the existing features versus reinventing the wheel.”
Those features included refitting a carpeted area with a tumbled travertine floor in an 11-piece pattern and continuing the stonework up the wall in back of the sanctuary between the two wood pilasters. “This was accomplished by adding a matching wood pediment that followed the arch of the ceiling line and rested on the two pilasters. After construction, we included the addition of rug to highlight the altar.”
Information about the origin of the woodwork, the stonework and the stone tiles was provided by Kevin in St. Mary’s March 28 parish bulletin.
A Seamless Transition for Parishioners
Fred, who said he enjoyed working on the project, added that any renovation can be stressful. “Basically, it’s like going into all the parishioners’ homes while they’re sleeping and rearranging the furniture and hoping that they like it.”
Kevin, he said, understood this well, and made sure the renovation was seamless for parishioners. “I was also very happy to have the opportunity to help fluff up the space in time for my classmate Larry Anderson’s first Mass there on May 23,” said Fred, speaking of Lawrence Anderson, OFM, who is being ordained a priest on May 22.
He added: “The best thing about being able to assist in various design projects throughout the Province is getting to know many different friars. Kevin was wonderful to work with. He was very trusting with my vision and made sure that what needed to be done got done.” Fred designed the interior of the Provincial Office and St. Francis Friary in New York, which opened in 2007.
The friars said they had many laughs during what could have been an overwhelming experience.
— Wendy Healy is a freelance writer based in Connecticut.