This letter is intended to oppose strongly the demolition of the historic St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Hamilton.
The reasoning behind the destruction of this icon of worship and beauty is faulty. Church attendance is decreasing all over the world. Wake up, people. If the pews are over-flowing, put in another slot for an additional service.
One talks about needing more space for 20 dedicated seats in the choir. Are there 20 dedicated singers? A 122-year-old church may need to address safety issues, accessibility for handicapped or the aging generation. Plumbing, heating, gutters, etc., need to be under constant vigilance. Upkeep a building. Do not uproot a building.
A church is not just a building.
“Nobody owns a church” (stated by Pollyanna) is a reflection for those who did not include the public interest side of this catastrophic decision to destroy.
When I was a lab technician at the Bitterroot Clinic in Hamilton 35 years ago, I would visit the church during my lunch hour. St. Francis of Assisi Church offered me a quiet refuge for prayer, meditation and music. I discovered a new spirituality in the peace of its surroundings by means of a book I discovered in the precious pew: “True Devotion to Mary” by St. Louis de Montfort.
I not only enjoyed playing the piano during lunch or after work, but some of my colleagues would be given piano lessons. In later years, when I became a member of the National Piano Guild, our May auditions would be held in that very church. One could never replace the stunning silence to the soul by seeing a religious landmark like St. Francis, with a practical “bucket of bolts.” All for what?
If my church was doubling in capacity, I would jump for joy. This does not seem to be happening — anywhere. There is no data–supported need for a larger church. (Bitterroot Star: 2/13/19).
This would be like the University of Montana putting in a new dorm on campus. (Enrollment is down.) How does one decide what to do regarding the demolition of a beautiful icon of worship that does have the pride of being 122 years old? Ask the church. After all, it must have a voice by now. Nobody owns a church. Let it be, and take good care of it. Amen, I might add.
— Eve Williams, Stevensville