HOLY TRINITY CATHOLIC CHURCH
Central to the concept of the Holy Trinity Master Plan is the bell tower and its place not only in structuring the campus plan, but also in the community. Community outreach is at the heart of the mission of St. Vincent de Paul. So important is this mission that Frederic Ozanam, responsible for the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, proclaimed that justice was not enough to ensure a stable society. He said that there is no justice which is not alongside charity. This is at the heart of the message of Saint Vincent de Paul. Charity must be at the heart of justice. This is symbolized by the inverted pyramid representing the scales of justice to be built of polished bronze inside the bell tower. This form is composed with the arches to form the shape of a heart - representing charity. The message of Saint Vincent de Paul is symbolically communicated to the city.
PROGRAM: The program for Holy Trinity Catholic Church is a new outreach center for the Saint Vincent Society and a multi-use community life center that also functions as a gymnasium for the Holy Trinity Catholic School. The total area for the new facility is 28,000 square feet. The outreach center will provide assistance to the working poor through counseling and financial assistance. A food pantry and used clothing outlet will also provide assistance. The architectural intent is to complement the architecture of the existing structures on the campus. The Church also expressed the desire to communicate, through the architecture of the new structures, the world vision of the Saint Vincent Society within the Catholic Church
SITE CONDITIONS: Founded in 1907, at the corner of Oak Lawn Avenue and Blackburn Avenue, the present Holy Trinity Catholic Church sanctuary was constructed in 1948. The site consists of four acres with little green space. The bell tower adjacent to the sanctuary was strategically located to center on Blackburn Street from Highway 75. The tower also marks the change in direction of Oak Lawn Avenue.
SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL: The religious thought of Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) provided the grounding for architectural organization of the project. Saint Vincent de Paul founded the Congregation of the Mission in 1625. The purpose of the Congregation of the Mission is to follow Christ evangelizing the poor, especially the more abandoned and to help the clergy and laity in their formation and lead them to a fuller participation in the evangelizing the poor. To further the cause, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in 1833 was founded by Antoine-Frederic Ozanam (1813-1853). He was an historian and leader in the Catholic revival in France. Ozanam, criticizing Kant and other Enlightenment thinkers of his day, underlined the shortcomings of justice and its impersonal nature. Ozanam said "Order in society is founded on two virtues, justice and charity. But justice already presupposes a lot of love, for one must love a person a lot if one is to respect his rights which border one's own rights, and his freedom which limits one's own freedom! Justice, however, has limits; charity knows none...The question which divides the people of today is no longer one about political structures but a social question. It is to find out which will win, the spirit of egoism or the spirit of sacrifice. Is society to be just a huge exploitation for the profit of the strongest, or a dedication of each person to the benefit of all, and especially to the protection of the weak? There is no charity which is not alongside justice."
To communicate this message to the community, a modification is proposed for the bell tower. An inverted pyramid is suspended by cables inside the arches of the tower. This inverted pyramid is constructed of a diaphanous bronze mesh material to gently reflect the sunlight and glow in the twilight. This figure represents the scales of justice. Juxtaposed with the arches in the tower, the figure transforms into the shape of a heart. The message of Saint Vincent is clear, justice in society overlaid with love. From the bridge that connects the Saint Vincent Outreach Center to the Community Life Center, one sees the back of the statue of Saint Vincent proposed for at top of the step into the center reaching out into the community. From this same vantage point, one stands on axis with the tower - the man, and the message, respectfully.
Updated November 2015