Thursday, April 10, 2008


Now that our churches have been wreckovated...

Now that the Latin Mass and tradition is once again in vogue...

What are the barren churches with decreasing membership thanks to the scandal supposed to do about rescuing the sacred?

One possible solution might be to call up Lumen Christi.

When the sisters at Spiritus Sanctus Academy in Plymouth asked Michael Coster in 2003 to paint a simple faux arch at the front of the gymnasium-turned chapel, the Catholic schoolteacher had no idea it would set him on a course to start his own church design enterprise.

Instead of painting the arch, Coster seized the chance to turn the large, hollow gym into an elaborate chapel, complete with an ornate altar, a stenciled ceiling with colorful religious medallions, side altars with rich mosaic work and a tiled floor filled with colorful religious symbols....

Instead of training or experience, Coster draws on the Internet, books and TV to guide the work - along with an innate talent he figures he inherited from his art teacher mother. He downloaded instructions from the Web on working with mosaic tiles and tuned into the Home and Garden channel and Trading Spaces, where rooms are redecorated on the cheap.

Coster and [his business partner] Jana learned to improvise: Instead of buying ceiling medallions at $250 apiece, they created a mold and made the 20 ceiling medallions needed for the Spiritus Sanctus chapel from plaster, which were hand-painted assembly-line-style by the sisters, staff and parents. Cost: $2.50 each.

They stumbled upon finds, including a free-standing shrine and pulpit that were on their way to the landfill after suffering smoke damage in a Detroit-area church fire. Coster incorporated the ornate arms of a bishop's chair in the altar.

"All of the work was done by people, the sisters and the church community, who didn't know what they were doing, including us," Coster said. A large part of the business is acquisition. "We've found altars in Italy, statues in Spanish and chairs on eBay," Coster said. They also found 16 pews on ebay.

Read the story and see a picture of the chapel here.

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