In January of last year, I wrote about Joey Wolfs, the 13-year-old altar server who started a petition to prevent a multifunctional centre replacing the church that collapsed on Christmas Eve 2010 in Lutselus, Diocese of Hasselt, Belgium. In an interview at the time, Joey said:
Lutselus needs a new church. A real one. Not one of those multifunctional things where there’s a Mass in the morning, a meeting of the elderly in the afternoon, and a youth gathering in the evening. You can’t be dancing between pulpit, baptismal font and altar, right? In a place where just before Our Lord was a guest?”
By the end of this year, the first stone for that new church could be laid, but sadly, it will not be the proper church that Joey and many others desired. Rorate reports that the new building, which is dubbed a “prayer space” instead of a church, “will be able to be changed into a multifunctional space. This will prove useful should there be a day when the church can no longer be used as such.”
The places we use for our worship have their influence on the way we worship. A church will do so differently than a meeting hall which was converted to meet the most basic needs for a community of faithful. In the secularised countries of western Europe the Church has need of proper churches for the new evangelisation. Multifunctional centres will not do that trick.
Photo credit: The church immediately after the collapse. REM
A return to the monthly stats reports, this one includes February and a tiny bit of March, a period which saw 4,154 visits to my blog, a pretty average number. In the top 10, it is striking to note a number of old posts (numbers 6, 8 and 9) as well as a very recent one at number 4. The situation around Bishop Schilder is of interest to many, it would seem.
I have noticed that a growing number of my blog posts tend to discuss hierarchical topics. In other words, the accusation leveled against me from some corners, that I am a bishop worshipper (or, in the words of a commenter here, an episcopolatrist), seems to develop some basis in fact. Of course I don’t worship bishops, but I do acknowledge their important role in the world Church. In many ways, I consider myself inspired by a blog like Whispers in the Loggia which discusses news topics about the hierarchy in the American Church. In my own small and inadequate way, I would like to offer something similar for the Church in northwestern Europe.
Anyway, on to the top 10:
1: A real church, “not one of those multifunctional things” 145
2: Another blogging bishop 80
3: Berlin is vacant, herald of things to come? 72
4: Dutch missionary bishop in the dock, Saint Valentine the Unknown 63
5: The archbishop gets his wish, Saint Paul’s prophetic words and Peter Seewald on the attack 56
6: The Stations of the Cross 52
7: Facing a difficult situation with “good humour” – Belgium veruss the archbishop 50
8: Another timely reminder, Het probleem Medjugorje 39
9: A poignant photo 34
10: Anti-life proposals questioned by its ‘target audience’ 31
Some encouraging signs of solid faith come from Belgium, from a 13-year-old boy. Joey Wolfs is a devoted and enthusiastic altar sever in churches in Diepenbeek and surroundings, in the Diocese of Hasselt. One of those churches is the Regina Pacis in Lutselus, which collapsed mere hours after the Christmas Eve Mass a few weeks ago. The municipal council of Diepenbeek is deliberating what to put in the church’s place, but Joey has already made up his mind.
“Lutselus needs a new church. A real one. Not one of those multifunctional things where there’s a Mass in the morning, a meeting of the elderly in the afternoon, and a youth gathering in the evening,” he says in local newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. “You can’t be dancing between pulpit, baptismal font and altar, right? In a place where just before Our Lord was a guest?”
In order to make sure that the right thing happens, Joey has already collected more than a thousands signatures of local residents. With next year’s council elections, Joey is pretty certain of himself and his cause.”Everywhere I go, people say: that boy is right. The people of Diepenbeek come and ask if they can sign the petition. If there’s not going to be a new church, people will not forget that in the voting booth.” In other words, the town council had better take him seriously.
In a country where the faith of so many has been hit hard be recent events, and in an area of the world where new churches tend to be community churches instead of sacred spaces, Joey’s initiative is a hopeful witness of faith and sensibility.
Unsurpisingly, Joey wants to be a priest when he is old enough.