Can you hear me now?


This is the most uninteresting picture that has been posted on this blog but it shows one of the best improvements to St. Mary’s. Sound has always been a problem in our church. The circular configuration and high dome are a huge challenge for clear sound, even with a good sound system. In a previous post I talked the physical improvements that have been made to help with sound. Now we can talk about the sound loop.

I have encountered many people with hearing aids who say, sadly, that they gave up trying to hear anything in St. Mary’s. Most hearing aids simply amplify the ambient sound in a given space. In a large church environment there are a lot of high and low tones to process through a hearing aid. However, there is a piece of technology in most hearing aids that changes the rules of the game. It’s called a Telecoil.

What is a Telecoil?

telecoil in a hearing aid functions as a wireless antenna that links to the sound system and delivers customized sound to the listener. A telecoil is a small copper coil that is an option in most hearing aids and is built into cochlear implant processors. Telecoils also known as t-coils and were originally used to boost the magnetic signals from the telephone handset. The telecoil is activated by a t-switch. All landline and some cell phones are designed by law to be used with a telecoil.

The t-coil can make a noticeable difference in a person’s life when combined with hearing assistive technology such as the hearing loop. This pairing of technology bridges the space between you and the sound source. The hearing loop connects the listener directly to the sound source while most of the background noise is eliminated.

What is a Hearing Loop?

A hearing loop is a wire that circles a room and is connected to a sound system. The loop transmits the sound electromagnetically. The electromagnetic signal is then picked up by the telecoil in the hearing aid or cochlear implant. The picture above shows the wire that has been placed into grooves in the concrete all over St. Mary’s.

To use a hearing loop, you flip on the t-switch on the hearing aid or cochlear implant to activate the telecoil. Usually, no additional receiver or equipment is needed. Using a telecoil and hearing loop together is seamless, cost-effective, unobtrusive, and you don’t have to seek additional equipment. Hearing loops are also called audio-induction loops, audio loops, or loops. If your hearing aid doesn’t have a telecoil, you will need a headset plugged into a loop receiver to achieve the same effect.

What will I need to do to use it the T-coil?

People who use hearing aids should check with their audiologist to see if their hearing aid has a telecoil. He or she can get everything set up. If your current hearing aid does not have telecoil, you should be able to price one that does.

You’ll see this symbol in St. Mary’s that will tell folks about the availability of the T-coil. Please help spread the word about this great piece of technology in our renewed church.



Ready the Way

Hope your Lent has gotten off to a good start. If not, it’s never too late to dive in.

There are many significant liturgical objects in a Catholic church. The ambry is a special place to reserve the Holy Oils (OLEA SANCTA in latin) that the Archbishop blesses each year at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week. The three oils are: Oil of the Sick, Sacred Chrism, Oil of Catechumens. Recently, the St. Mary’s ambry was located in the day chapel to the north of the sanctuary. However originally it was located in between the vertical slats to the right of the celebrant’s chair. This piece was produced by the same artists that made the tabernacle. I’m happy to announce that the original ambry will be relocated to the narthex (gathering space) near the baptistry. This is the proper location since the Sacred Chrism and Oil of Catechumens are used at each baptism. Here is a picture of the refurbished ambry:


Inside, the tile around the perimeter of the church is almost complete. In this picture you can see the tile as well as the front of the adoration chapel and the door to the sacristy.


The entryway of the church has been boxed in to help heat the ground where concrete will be poured. The plywood sits right about where the exterior doors will be installed. You can see the roofers installing a membrane that serves as a base for the new roof:


This view from the inside looks to the south. You can see the same plywood. The doors have been removed and we’re now able to get a feel for how this enlarged space. Very cool.


Gathering a people

The word “church” comes from the Greek work – ecclesia – which means to be “called out”. A church is a group of people who have been “called out” from an ordinary life to an abundant life in Jesus Christ. Most church buildings acknowledge this by creating a prominent entrance where the majority of people enter. This is symbolic of the fact that we are pilgrim people traveling the same path to one destination.

St. Mary’s was built with a beautiful entrance but the renewal project bring enhancements in the form of an enlarged gathering space (narthex) and a portico that reaches out over the steps. Both spaces will emphasize the importance of gathering at church before and after Mass – to prepare to enter into the Holy Sacrifice and share graces before we go back out to the world.

Here is a picture of the steel frame of the portico:


This is what it will look like when completed:

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 2.53.22 PM

The other main gathering space – the nave – is nearing completion. Painters are adding additional coats to the wall of the dome.


The Signin’ O’ the Beam

Come to the Parish Center tomorrow (February 15) for coffee and rolls after the 8 and 9:30 am Masses and leave your mark on the renewal of St. Mary’s Church. This beam will be installed soon as part of the new entrance. We’d like to have your signature on it.



The Race to the Finish

We are now racing toward the finish of the renewal of St. Mary’s. However, as we prepare to enter into the holy season of Lent next Wednesday (February 18), our main focus continues to be our personal and collective need for conversion – to turn away from sin and look toward Jesus. We can boil Lent down to one essential point: What will help me to rest in the Father’s love and what can I let go that leads me away? Jesus’ joy is being the Father’s Son. He wants us to have that same joy.


Okay, here’s the weekly roundup.

Tile work continues, which is good because there is a ton of it. Workers are placing the field tile around the perimeter:


Here’s a shot of the floor tile in the restroom that serves the combination bride/choir room:


The bride/choir room is one area where we have gained square footage. The east wall of this wing has been pushed out 5 feet.


The baptismal font has been moved south about 8 feet in order to center it in the narthex (gathering space).


Interior door frames are being checked for plumb and level. These doors will allow us to have a space where people can congregate without disturbing those in the nave.


Cabinets for the sacristy are ready to be installed.


The dome is ready to receive it’s final coat.


Coming to together folks. Very exciting to see!

Chugging along but first…the most important thing

Before the weekly update I want to spread the good news about the Norfolk Catholic School of Prayer. Parishioners have stepped forward to help our k-6 students learn to listen to Jesus. They spend about 15 minutes in front of the Blessed Sacrament and pray with Scripture. The students write down the word or phrase that strikes them. Then small groups are formed and students share their word with one another. Everyone has an opportunity to receive prayer for their needs. How cool is this?!? (*Note – everyone can learn to listen to God speak. Interested?)



Boy, I think Easter is going to come quickly this year. The number of things happening so rapidly is tremendously exciting. But…it’s best for us not to miss out on our Best Lent Ever (Best Lent Ever – Dynamic Catholic)

Here’s the weekly progress:

Workers are preparing the floor for tile by grinding off old glue with a machine. In times past this was done by hand! Tile work will begin soon.


Lights will be installed at the top of the dome. This will insure there are no dark areas in the charge. This picture shows the holes cut out to receive the new fixtures. Bulbs will be long-lasting LED’s. Would need a long ladder to get up there…


This is a shot of the lower ceiling. 57 can lights are being replaced. The new fixtures are brighter and much more efficient.