“As living stones built up, a spiritual house”

Rev. John Brucciani

The construction of the new Church of St Michael Archangel in Burghclere continues apace. Almost every week sees the completion of a major element of the project. The roofs will be completed by July. The dome above the sanctuary has been installed. It gives the church its markedly Roman architectural character and will do wonders for the acoustics. The ceilings, narthex and sacristies are being plastered as I write. The inside scaffolding will then be removed, which will allow for work to commence at ground level: construction of the altar steps, installation of floor insulation, membranes and the heating pipework and manifolds. The floor screed will then be laid towards the middle of July and left to dry for four weeks, during which builders will plaster the walls, erect the choir loft and install windows and door frames.

Once the floor screed has dried, the tilers will lay a beautiful stone floor which will add to the dignity and character of the church interior. By the end of August, the church will be almost completed. There will be a good week of snagging and cleaning. The final handover is now scheduled for mid-September. God-willing, we will not encounter any difficulties and have confidence enough to plan the blessing and opening for the end of September. Prayers, please, and donations!

To add to the excitement of visible progress, we are thrilled to have found a stone altar that perfectly fits the church's layout and design. It will be removed from a disused Catholic church in the Clifton Diocese, cleaned, repaired and installed in our new church during August. I have been informed that on the occasion of my twenty-fifth anniversary to the priesthood, donations have been received for the purchase of a new altar. The money will be used to pay for the removal, transport and installation, to the tune of £7,000. A tremendous thank you to those who made this gift of an altar possible. Along with the altar comes a handsome bronze tabernacle specially designed to measure and of sufficient size for our needs.

The same church also has 44 oak benches, 3.1m in length and in excellent condition. The church would be delighted if we simply take them! Once we have cut some of them down to size, the 44 matching benches will provide ample and uniform seating throughout the church. Between the high altar, tabernacle and benches, Providence has shown its marked approval of the new church. The priest and parishioners of the church where these items come from are thankful that the beloved treasures of their former parish are going to a new home. I have promised them our prayers and will send them photos once everything is installed.

Brother Dominic successfully ran his half-marathon in 2 hours and 2 minutes. His efforts have raised £2,000 towards an organ for the new church. Any surplus money left over from the Stone Altar Project will be redirected to the organ fund. I sincerely hope that we can collect enough to honour our splendid choir with an instrument that is equal to the quality of their singing. There is a reason why the liturgy places such emphasis on music. For the confused, weak or oppressed soul, music is often the only language it can understand. Church music is designed to help the soul become docile to the workings of Divine Grace. It teaches us the greatness of God's Majesty and the tenderness of His love. In current times, we should be determined to offer to God the best means for Him to speak His majesty and mercy to souls.

I have located two draw cabinets of suitable size and dimension, which offer an excellent and vastly cheaper alternative to a bespoke built vestment press. Each cabinet costs £2,400 and will house the sacred vestments for Holy Mass. A kind benefactor has already donated the price of two new chasubles for the church. I have told him that I will only purchase once we have suitable storage for the new vestments. I do hope that we can offer as good and tender care to our Lord's wardrobe as we do to our own.

A new water main has been laid, which will replace the three mains that currently feed the property and that run underneath the church. These have sustained damage during construction. It is, therefore, necessary to replace and reroute the mains around the church to allow future access the in the event of a rupture.

The road, car park and footpaths should be completed by the end of July. Only then will we suddenly realise that the church is, indeed, a reality and that Our Lord truly does intend to give Himself and his flock a new home. We must ever be grateful and show that gratitude through our generous giving.

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