OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – From the front doors and into the sanctuary, moving forward at the Saint Patrick Church mirrors the journey of the lost themselves.
“You come from the darkness into the light here,” describes Father Stephen Bird. “This was the ultimate design.”
He still feels the power of this unique structure every time he walks forward to the altar he served from 1996 to 2002.
“Definitely,” he smiles. “I remember it being very different. Unusual.”
On this St. Patrick’s Day morning, he is a tour guide for young students, too young to know its recent history.
The parish began in 1950. This house of worship was constructed by the parishioners themselves over a two-year period and the dedication took place in September, 1962.
The general plan, he states of the working-class congregation, “How do you enclose a large space with a minimum of materials.”
Stones from the floor were cut in Calumet, Oklahoma to the west. Pews were hand made in a temporary carpenter shop on site. A host of angels, 50 of them in formed concrete, stand on constant watch.
“They consist of poured cement in forms on the ground,” Bird explains. “They come from descriptions in the scripture the Lord is surrounded by angels in Revelation.”
From the moment it was consecrated more than 60 years ago, this church has been recognized for its unique style and story.
Called Brutalist Architecture by some and Mid-Century Modern by others, the St. Patrick mirrored changes already happening in the Catholic Church at that time.
Bird says, “In some ways this church was sort of pre-Vatican 2. But it actually fits Vatican 2.”
It’s been more than 20 years since Father Bird dedicated a statue of Saint Patrick himself, who visited Ireland in 400AD for the first time as a slave, and for the second time as priest, and bringer of light.
Bird quotes Saint Patrick’s Confession, “Boldly, and without any fear, I must faithfully preach everywhere in the name of God.”
Saint Patrick Church is still true to that mission in both form and function.
For more information on St. Patrick Church go to their website here.
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