Historic St. Anthony Catholic Church
258 Ohio, Wichita, Ks
2nd St. & Ohio
Two blocks east of Old Town
Sunday Mass at 1:oo
English/Latin missals provided. Join us for coffee and donuts after mass downstairs in the St. Clair/Sunshine room, south exterior basement entrance.
Pastor of St. Anthony Parish: Fr. Ben Nguyen
EFLR Celebrants: Fr. John Jirak, Fr Nicholas Voelker
Master of Ceremonies: Tony Strunk
Choir Director: Bernie Dette

Continuing News

+To submit an article or if you have comments contact me, Mark, at bumpy187@gmail.com.

Like us on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/VeniteMissaEst?ref=hl

Did You Know

Mass Propers, the readings that change everyday, can be found in the red missalettes at the entrance of church?

Fr. Nicholas Voelker celebrates Low Mass Saturdays at 8:00 a.m., St. Mary's Catholic Church, 106 East 8th street, Newton. There is no mass this Saturday, January 30, 2016.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Post #42

Topics: Saint Anthony of Padua: A Brief History....KAHS Radio: Live Streaming from Our Local Catholic Station.... My Catholic Faith: The Mystical Body of Christ....Out of Towner Blog and Pictures: Lost Lambs....Prayer and Call For: Altar Boys....Sancta Missa: Workshop for Laity....Video: Boston Archdiocese Closes 131 Year Old Church ....Prayer Request: Mariana Saenz Llamas



Saint Anthony of Padua is the center statue on our main Altar - the Franciscan friar with the Christ Child in his arms. Saint Anthony’s devotion to the Baby Jesus was so strong that the Child appeared to him and allowed Anthony to hold Him.

Saint Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195. At the age of 15, he entered a monastery and later went to Coimbra, the study house of the Augustinian monks where he became an expert in Scripture. However, when Saint Anthony heard of the first Franciscan martyrs in Morocco, he joined the Franciscans. His desire was to work as a missionary in Morocco, but the Lord had other plans for him, and Anthony’s poor health forced him to abandon this plan.

The ship, on which he was a passenger, was driven off course and landed in Sicily. He remained in Italy and became affiliated with the Franciscan province of Romagna. He was given the gift of preaching, and used his talents to battle the heretics in Northern Italy and Southern France.

In 1233, Francis of Assisi appointed Anthony the first professor of theology for the Friars. (This was a big step for Francis who had a distrust of the over intellectualization of religion.) Anthony is credited with introducing the theology of Saint Augustine into the Franciscan Order. He died at the young age of 36 near Padua, Italy.

In popular devotion, Saint Anthony is venerated as the apostle of charity, the finder of lost objects, patron of lovers and marriage, of women in confinement, and of miners.


KAHS Radio: Live Streaming
There is a new link to KAHS radio, the local station with Catholic programming. The radio station now has 24 hours a day programming from EWTN and Catholic Answers easily streamed over the internet. The link is now under our links on the lower right of this page.
Catholic Radio Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. KAHS relies on the generosity of our radio listeners to keep Catholic talk on the air in Kansas City, Wichita, Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas. Please prayerfully consider supporting this important lay ministry!


The Catholic Church
The Mystical Body of Christ
My Catholic Faith by Luis LaRaviore Morrow, 1961
Based on A Catechism of Christian Doctrine, Revised Edition
of the
Baltimore Catechism, the Holy Bible and the Collectio Rituum.

Why is the Catholic Church called the Mystical Body of Christ? The Catholic Church is called the Mystical Body of Christ, because its members are united by supernatural bonds with one another and with Christ, their Head, thus resembling the members and head of the living human body.

How are we united to the Mystical Body of Christ?
We are united by three spiritual bonds: a) a Liturgical bond (the profession of the Catholic faith); b) a Symbolic bond (the profession of the Catholic faith); and c) a Hierarchical bond (obedience to the Church’s rulers, and freedom from a penalty that would cast us out of the Church).

A baptized person separates himself form the Mystical Body of Christ either by heresy, apostasy or schism. A person is cast out of the Mystical Body of Christ when he is excommunicated. Any person who separates himself from the Church or is excommunicated can always return to the Church and the sacraments, if he repents of his sins and seeks absolution form the proper authorities.

  1. In the Mystical Body, Christ as head wills to be helped by his Body. Thus He rules the Church, but does so indirectly through the hierarchy, human authority. In a similar manner the human head, to live has need of the rest of the body.
  2. Among the members of the Mystical Body of Christ there exists interdependence; so that although each one has his own individual function, yet he does not live for himself alone, but for the entire body. Every good he does perfects the Body, of which he is a part.

What is meant by the Communion of Saints” in the Apostles’ Creed?

By the Communion of Saints is meant the union of the faithful on earth, the blessed in heaven, and the souls in purgatory, with Christ as their head.

  1. There is only one Mystical Body, only one Church which contains three portions:
  2. All the saints and angels in heaven compose the Church triumphant, because they have gained the crown of victory. B) The souls in purgatory comprise the Church suffering, because they still have to expiate for their sins before they can enter heaven. C) The faithful on earth compose the Church militant, because they have to struggle ceaselessly against the enemies of their souls.
  3. All the members of the Church are of one family, and share in the spiritual treasures of the Church.

While those in the state of mortal sin do not enjoy fully the benefits of the “communion of saints”, even they are not entirely excluded form it. Thus they may receive the grace to repent and recover sanctifying grace. Hence a Catholic, who still belongs to the Church, although a great sinner, may have more hope of being converted than one who cuts himself off form the Church.

How do the MEMBERS of the Communion of Saints HELP ONE ANOTHER?

The members of the “communion of saints,” the blessed in heaven can help those in purgatory and on earth by praying for the blessed in heaven and pray to them, because they are worthy of honor and as friends of god will help the faithful on earth.


Out of Towner Blog and Pictures:
Lost Lambs at http://www.lostlambs.net

Recently, while writing a reflective piece on life and Catholicism (see Post #38, Random Thoughts: The Promise) I was Googling a con
struction date for St. Mary's Catholic School in Newton and crossed paths of a blog from a young man from Newton (my home town) who now lives in the Kansas City area.
He just happens to have some nice pictures of St. Anthony and has posted them on his blog. Please visit his blog, comment and/or email him to say hello. Be sure to mention Venite Missa Est!
Click the link to see the pics. http://www.lostlambs.net/2007/08/saint-antonius-wichita-kansas/
...and from Christopher at Lost Lambs I borrowed the following prayer for altar boys. Thank you Christopher and God bless.


To an Altar Boy
A Prayer and a Call for Volunteers

To an Altar Boy

To be Christ’s page at the altar,
To serve him freely there,
Where even the angels falter,
Bowed low in reverent prayer.
To touch the throne most holy,
To hand the gifts for the feast,
To see Him meekly, lowly.

Descend at the word of the priest.
To hear man’s poor petition.
To sound the silver bell.
When He in sweet submission,
Comes down with us to dwell.
No grander mission surly
Could saints or men enjoy;
No heart should love more purely,
Than yours, my altar boy.
God bless you, lad, forever.
And keep you in His care,
And guard you that you never
Belie the robes you wear.
For while bespeaks untainted
A heart both tried and true;
And red tells love the sainted
And holy martyrs knew.
Throughout life, then, endeavor
God’s graces to employ;
And be in heart forever
A holy altar boy..


Altar servers, boys and young men, to serve on the altar at Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) at St. Anthony Church, Wichita.

Come serve our Lord and the Church and learn responsibility,Catholic tradition, reverence and even some Latin phrases! Latin isn't hard...why all the Roman kids spoke it with ease!

Parents: What a great opportunity for your young men and boys to be part of the beautiful and ancient liturgy of holy Catholic Church.

For inquiries please contact Tony Strunk, Master of Ceremonies at tonystrunk@aol.com .


Workshop For Laity

Monday August 25 to Friday, August 29, 2008
Mundelein, IL
Extraordinary Form of the Mass - 1962 Missale Romanum
The "Workshop for Laity" in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass will provide registrants with an in-depth examination and spiritual meditation on the Traditional Latin Mass through the presentation of lectures.
Participants will also have opportunities for Eucharistic Adoration to extend the worship of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Devotion to Our Blessed Lady will be fostered by the recitation of the Holy Rosary in Latin. Additionally, sacramental Confession will be offered frequently throughout the week for the spiritual benefit of those attending the workshop. And best of all, each day of the workshop, registrants will participate in the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, with an ever-deeper love and appreciation of the Church, her liturgical traditions and of her Savior, Jesus Christ.
Follow this link to Sancta Missa website:


Tragedy and Shame...
Boston Archdiocese Closes 131 Year Old Church Closes

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston has announced the closing of the 131 year old Holy Trinity Church. A historical jewel, Holy Trinity is a church that will not soon (if ever) be replicated in its architectural beauty. Holy Trinity is home to a predominately German community as well as a Traditional Latin Mass community (EFRL).


Prayer Request
Please grant me your favor in praying for my dear mother who suffers from vascular dementia. Though her body, at age 86, for the most part is in good working order, recent mini stroke(s) have contributed to her decline...weight loss and lethargy.
Mother has been a lifelong devout Catholic, pilgrimaged to see Pope John Paul II, traveled to view the Catedral Metropolitana in Mexico City and prays the rosary faithfully every evening. Her faithful husband, my father, passed two years ago.
Please petition our Lord and Holy Mother for God's grace and deliverance from all evil in these, her waning days. Bless you Mariana Saenz Llamas.


Monday, July 7, 2008

Post #41

Topics: Parishioners of St. Anthony featured: Luke Headley.... Video: Usus Antiquior in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris….The Baltimore Catechism, Lesson 27: The Sacramentals….Random Thoughts: Personal Witness; The Church Militant....Hate Crime? Minnesota Professor Pledges to Desecrate Eucharist.

Parishioners of St. Anthony
Luke Headley

You may have seen Luke Headley around town tinkering and fixing organs...or perhaps you may have seen him at St. Anne's where he is studying the rubrics and preparing to instruct the altar servers, or perhaps you toured his historical house. Perhaps you may have seen him in St. Anthony's attic trying to get a glimpse of the bell...or moving the statues high above the reredos at Easter, but most likely you have seen Luke serving at Latin mass (EFLR) on Sundays alongside Fr. Lies.

Luke Headley is a personable young man, born in Wichita, married to a lovely wife Traci, "father" to an adorable rat terrier named Nina, a ferret name Squiggly and one fat cat named Tobias. His interests, outside of mass, include working on his 100 plus year old house, The Harding House (http://members.cox.net/wichitahpa/harding.html), restoring a 1931 model A Ford and working on his pipe organ at home (he used to fixed pipe organs for a living).

That's a lot of hobbies for a married man working full time at Spirit. "My wife is a very patient lady" Luke says. "The house is the new big hobby. So much to do. She's 123 years old this year (umm...he's referring to the house :D) and is showing her age in some places. My wife and I are hoping for some little ones soon; that will put everything at a stand-still, so lets just say I will never have an excuse to say that I am bored.
One hobby, or rather, avocation that stands out in Luke's mind is serving at the Traditional Latin Mass (EFLR) . "(That) is the highlight of my year and I get to do it every Sunday...it consumes my mind all week...as soon as Mass ends, I am ready to go again, no matter how much my knees hurt!"

When it comes to Catholicism (particularly the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite) I can attest to Luke's passion. In his grand old home Luke has his own chapel, complete with home altar. He built it himself and it sort of resembles the altar at St. Anthony but in smaller scale. Luke has even gone so far as to install a bell in his attic which, much to the amazement of his neighbors, he rings every so often.

Luke comments on the beginning of his love affair with the traditional mass. "I still very much remember my first Traditional Latin Mass. My wife and I decided that we would see what it was like. I hadn't heard much about it (we need to advertise better!). I remember being very excited about seeing the high altar there by itself...then there were the servers, and more servers and more servers!!

"Then there was Father Lies wearing his biretta! And I was thinking, yes they (birettas) DO still exist outside of Rome!"

Luke has proven to be an astute student of Catholic liturgy as he studiously pours over the often complex rubrics for the traditional mass. And between the house and the organs and his family I suspect that there is much more to Luke than this brief post can contain so I will let Luke close it out in his own words with his own message.

"To say I prefer the Traditional Latin Mass doesn't quite get it. I have a love affair with it. I have tried so hard to educate other people and help them learn to love it like I do. It is hard to get through to people. It almost makes you want to cry when they don't get it, and reject it. It IS the most beautiful thing this side of heaven."

"I would like to see MORE SERVERS! that means you young man in the middle back section (sitting with your mom). I want to see more people in the pews. We need to promote the beauty of this mass...we have the most beautiful mass in the most beautiful church in town."

Amen brother.

Usus Antiquior in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris
June 17, 2008
The Preface before the Sanctus...it's nice that we know this part of the mass without even looking...we can recognize this from our mass at St. Anthony. This is what makes the EFLR truly Universal.

The Baltimore Catechism
Lesson 27: The Sacramentals

292. Q. What is a sacramental?
A. A sacramental is anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to increase devotion, and through these movements of the heart to remit venial sin.
293. Q. What is the difference between the Sacraments and the sacramentals?
A. The difference between the Sacraments and the sacramentals is:
1. The Sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ and the sacramentals were instituted by the Church;
2. The Sacraments give grace of themselves when we place no obstacle in the way; the sacramentals excite in us pious dispositions, by means of which we may obtain grace.
294. Q. Which is the chief sacramental used in the Church?
A. The chief sacramental used in the Church is the sign of the Cross.
295. Q. How do we make the sign of the Cross?
A. We make the sign of the Cross by putting the right hand to the forehead, then on the breast, and then to the left and right shoulders, saying, In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
296. Q. Why do we make the sign of the Cross?
A. We make the sign of the Cross to show that we are Christians and to profess our belief in the chief mysteries of our religion.
297. Q. How is the sign of the Cross a profession of faith in the chief mysteries of our religion?
A. The sign of the Cross is a profession of faith in the chief mysteries of our religion because it expresses the mysteries of the Unity and Trinity of God and of the Incarnation and death of our Lord.
298. Q. How does the sign of the Cross express the mystery of the Unity and Trinity of God?
A. The words, In the name, express the Unity of God; the words that follow, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, express the mystery of the Trinity.
299. Q. How does the sign of the Cross express the mystery of the Incarnation and death of our Lord?
A. The sign of the Cross expresses the mystery of the Incarnation by reminding us that the Son of God, having become man, suffered death on the cross.
300. Q. What other sacramental is in very frequent use?
A. Another sacramental in very frequent use is holy water.
301. Q. What is holy water?
A. Holy water is water blessed by the priest with solemn prayer to beg God's blessing on those who use it, and protection from the powers of darkness.
302. Q. Are there other sacramentals besides the sign of the Cross and holy water?

A. Besides the sign of the Cross and holy water there are many other sacramentals, such as blessed candles, ashes, palms, crucifixes, images of the Blessed Virgin and of the saints, rosaries, and scapulars.

Random Thoughts:
Personal Witness: The Church Militant

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).

The following story is one of a supernatural occurrance, a witness of something "other worldly". It was related to me many years ago and, with reluctance, recently by a
man I know personally to be straightforward and honest It is a story he has told to only a few people but it is such a remarkable story that I got his permission (on condition of anonymity) and blessing to publish it here and share with the world.

I am blessed, or cursed, to have the kind of approachability that seems to elicit personal stories by both friends and perfect strangers. This lent itself to making me a very good bartender (in my younger days) where in bars so many damaged people tend to gather. I often served as therapist, counselor, referee ...a sort of an avuncular wine and spirit vendor. I witnessed many things...the downfall of many, the arising of others, of misery and newfound glory...I've heard stories one would faint at, one would cry at and many that one would marvel at. And here is just one of those kinds of stories.

(The following is what I could manage to type as it was related back to me.)

..."...I was partying a lot. Drinking
....whatever, you know? ...I wasn't doing anything other than partying...running around...ya know?...no cares... so I was sound asleep when ...eleven or noon I bolted straight up in bed ....my heart was poundin' and I felt like I was crazy..going to explode!..for no reason...and I look over in the corner and there in the corner was a sort of..........it looked like a tornado ......a sort of mirage , ya know like a mirage on a hot highway or in a desert, and I couldn't really see it but I knew it was there...not sure if I saw it or my mind's eye saw it.................I can only describe it as...weird..like a ghost or something but not like a person...there was no color or body or anything....it was transparent but I'm not sure if I actually saw anything...............but I knew that I was seeing some kind of struggle...a fight...and I knew that there was evil in the room but it was in struggle with something...it was almost right away in an instant I think I knew that I was seeing the battle over me and it was good against evil fighting over me right there in my bedroom and just real quick it disappeared and everything was quiet...there was no noise but when it disappeared it seemed really quiet.
I got
out of bed and I went straight to bathroom where I poured my bottle right down the sink and then I got on my knees beside my bed and prayed for the first time in a REAL long time....I don't remember what I prayed or said but..........I guess it was my angel I don't know...

This gentleman is older and mature now and leads a normal work-a-day existence, attends mass, generally has a quiet life and has had struggles and victories just like all of us. Whether or not you believe his story is up to you but it changed his perspective
and he says he will never forget that morning some 20 years ago.
Post Script: "Personal Witness: The Church Militant" in no way reflects official Catholic doctrine but serves only as personal reflection.

Catholic League July 10, 2008, http://www.catholicleague.org/release.php?id=1459

Paul Zachary Myers, a professor at the University of Minnesota Morris, has pledged to desecrate the Eucharist. He is responding to what happened recently at the University of Central Florida when a student walked out of Mass with the Host, holding it hostage for several days. Myers was angry at the Catholic League for criticizing the student. His post can be accessed from his faculty page on the university’s website.

Here is an excerpt of his July 8 post, “It’s a Frackin’ Cracker!”:

“Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?” Myers continued by saying, “if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web.”

Catholic League president Bill Donohue responded as follows:

“The Myers blog can be accessed from the university’s website. The university has a policy statement on this issue which says that the ‘Contents of all electronic pages must be consistent with University of Minnesota policies, local, state and federal laws.’ One of the school’s policies, ‘Code of Conduct,’ says that ‘When dealing with others,’ faculty et al. must be ‘respectful, fair and civil.’ Accordingly, we are contacting the President and the Board of Regents to see what they are going to do about this matter. Because the university is a state institution, we are also contacting the Minnesota legislature.

“It is hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ. We look to those who have oversight responsibility to act quickly and decisively.”

Contact President Robert Bruininks at bruin001@umn.edu

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Post #40

Topics: Congregation for Divine Worship; Vernacular Masses But with Latin Consecration?....Learning About Mass, The Asperges....911 Dispatcher Earns Distinction....Random Thoughts Human Fragility and Light Bulbs in St. Anthony’s Attic.

Congregation for Divine Worship
Vernacular Masses But with Latin Consecration?
as reported by http://wdtprs.com/blog/
Slavishly accurate liturgical translations & frank commentary on Catholic issues - by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf)

The Rite of Mass could change. According to some leaks, Benedict XVI has give the Congregation for Divine Worship the task of studying some modifications in the liturgy. In particular, it is said the Pope intends to reinstate the Latin for the formula of the Eucharistic consecration in Mass in the vernacular, i.e., the one celebrated in different national languages. [This means that in Masses in English, Italian etc., when the priest would get to the two fold consecration, he would switch to LATIN.] The same thing could happen for the [sacramental] formulas of baptism, confirmation, confession and the other sacraments. In addition the sign of peace among the faithful during Mass, which today takes place before the distribution of the Eucharist, could be moved forward (as in the Ambrosian rite) to the offertory in order so as not to disturb the recollection before Communion.

These modifications would be joined to the changes to the liturgy and sacred vestments which the Pope, together with his Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini, has accomplished in these last few months, in order to recover ancient traditions: the restoration of the Crucifix at the center of the altar, the distribution of Communion to the faithful on the tongue while kneeling, [though non of these things are changes to the liturgy as such, they are changes in practice] the retrieval of the pastoral staff of Pius IX (the ferula), the alteration of the shape of pallium (the strip of white wool with red crosses worn by the Pope), the restoration of the papal throne used in a consistory and the celebration of Mass with the back to the assembly, as happened in January in the Sistine Chapel.

Learning About Mass
The Asperges

Thou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed…

Immediately before Sunday High Mass, the priest, wearing his cope (see Post # 38 Priests Vestments; Is That a Maniple or a Chasuble?) intones the Asperges. This is the sprinkling of the congregation with holy water as the priest walks amongst the people.

The name comes from Psalm 51 which is sung during the Traditional form of the Latin rite, except from Easter to Whitsunday (Paschaltide) in which the Vidi Aquam is intoned. We beg God's mercy (or, during Paschaltide, we praise His mercy) and ask Him to send our church's Guardian Angel to protect us (every church has its own guardian angel).

The priest, accompanied by two servers, one holding the bucket of holy water, both holding his cope sleeve, move down the isle as the priest sprinkles with the aspergium (see picture).
As the choir sings “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son….” You will see the trio stop in their tracks and bow reverently before continuing.

Holy water is a sacramental, the devout use of which is able to remit venial sins. Hyssop is a tufted plant which the Jews used for ritual sprinkling.

And here it is in its entirety:

Thou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall become whiter than snow.
(…the rite continues)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy.

Glory be to Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen

Thou shalt sprinkle me, O Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall become whiter than snow.

Priest: Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
Server: And grant us thy salvation
Priest: O Lord, hear my prayer.
Server: And let my cry come unto Thee.
Priest: The Lord be with you.

Server: And with thy spirit.
Priest: Let us pray.
Priest: Hear us, O holy Lord, Almighty Father ,ever-lasting God, and vouchsafe to send Thy holy Angel from
heaven, to gu
ard, cherish, protect, visit and defend all that are assembled in this place: Through
Christ our Lord.
Server: Amen

911 Dispatcher Earns Distinction
atin Mass Attendee Named Telecommunicator of the Year

You may not know Brody Flavin but perhaps you've noticed him sitting in the pews at Latin Mass (EFLR). Brody is a young man who hails from Newton and is slated for marriage next month at St. Anthony.
While hoping to become a fireman or policeman Brody has earned distinction as a 911 dispatcher in his assistance in a three county chase by Harvey County law enforcement. Flavin was recognized by the Association of Public Communications Officials as the 2007 Telecommunicator of the Year. Congratulations Brody on your award and your upcoming nuptials.

Random Thoughts
Human Fragility and Light Bulbs in St. Anthony’s Attic

Peppered throughout life are those times when one realizes just how fragile human existence is. For me it was in the attic of St. Anthony Catholic church as I observed the Thompson brothers change the light bulbs in the ceiling above the sanctuary (most will remember the Thompson brothers as servers at Latin Mass).

Bob Wells, life long parishioner and sacristan asked that I go up with the brothers to learn how to change the bulbs. You see, there is no fancy pole with a grabber thing on the end, no safe enclosed lift to take us up…the bulbs have to be accessed from above and this is a little more complicated then one might imagine.

The journey to near certain death began intriguingly enough through the left side of the sacristy (NE corner of the church). There in the small room off of the altar is a small narrow staircase of old wood that abruptly turns as it goes upward. Once above you enter into a second story room, perhaps 13 by 10 feet with planked floors and dusty storage. But what’s this? There in the corner is a foreboding figure of darkness and gloom. It is what I can only describe as, The Ladder of Death! (or extreme hurt anyway).

This ladder is as old as the church. Now, I am prone to sensationalism, but I believe this ladder extends at least 25 feet upward into a square opening in the ceiling. It‘s rungs are (very) thin wooden dowels, my thought being that men in 1904 were smaller in stature all around. Its only anchor to anything resembling solid is at the top. It proves to be one of those special, fun ladders that bounce and shake precariously as you climb it…which normally I might find amusing, but the thought of a broken leg kind of put a knot in my gut. As I mutter something to this affect Mr. Wells chuckled and said “well it’s better than the original…which is to your left.” At this point, with white knuckles clinging and my stomach pressing through the rungs on the other side (imagine that), I glance over to notice boards nailed to the studs on the wall. Indeed, thank God for THIS ladder.

Once through the hole in the ceiling I find myself on a bit of flooring that I suppose can be described as a third (or fourth) story. It holds the AC units and duct work and forms a squarish U shape around the ceiling above the altar. In the middle of the U shape are the rafters, bare exposed under two feet of sprayed insulation. This is what kind of freaks me out…knowing that one misstep and I fall forty feet down onto the sanctuary floor. Ok, I will admit, that is a bit over the top…most likely I would catch myself in the rafters by my broken neck and swiveling cranium…so that is a small measure of comfort. There is a board laid across this vast sea of certain death (yes, I said a board …the kind you fall off of and meet your Maker...see picture) that inclines towards the rafters of the church and the bell tower. This leads to a catwalk…or more accurately…more boards that extend all the way to the choir loft…I don’t imagine anyone of any sound mind or sense would attempt to use this as you would have to duck below other rafters as you walked. Again, below the insulation lie more rafters and plaster…so this is not a practical or safe walkway and was probably left by the original workman.

Going back to my original starting point are two big windows and a good view of the rear parking lot(look up from the rear parking lot and you can see into the attic). Without gratings on the windows this lends a certain vertigo to the atmosphere. Between these windows are a small series of steps that hug the east wall…these lead to another catwalk that runs parallel above the aforementioned catwalk except this one has railings (see picture) and leads directly into the bell tower. It is much wider and safer, though one of the boys does comment “Oh, by the way…hold on at all times and trust nothing….!”

To change the lights is a two (or three) man operation. One man is on firm ground below to actually switch out the bulbs…that’s the safe part. The other guy(s) walk out onto the rafters of the ceiling, hidden in insulation, to access the “buckets” that the bulbs sit inside of. The Thompson brothers were absolutely fearless as they stepped onto the rafters, lean over and go straight to work.


  1. Grab the “bucket” securely (connected by a chain to heavy beams). The buckets are fastened to a cross board by a long bolt and wing nut. This is the apparatus that keeps it from falling though the ceiling.
  2. Unscrew the wing nut and hold the bucket tightly
  3. Remove the cross board.
  4. Very gently, commences to lower the bucket downward to the man waiting below, being very careful to not let the chain swing as this acts just like a saw in the fragile plaster ceiling.
  5. Man below changes bulb.
  6. Unit is pulled back up and secured.
  7. Mutter prayer of thanks for another chance at life.

Once the work was done we explored a bit. Here and there is graffiti from workmen gone passed…a date scrawled in paint from 1932, scribblings, and markings. Once on the catwalk you can see just how solid the building is with huge timbers and iron “hangers” down the middle (see picture). Off to the sides are mini catwalks that extend to the small roundish windows in the roof. You can see these from street level, though I cannot imagine what purpose the little windows serve, save the small amount of light they let in. These old catwalks, extending laterally over the pews below, look unsteady and I don’t imagine anyone has ventured out onto them in years (you can see these in the foreground in the picture above right).

Once down the catwalk you step up into the bell tower which is flooded in light. This is probably the most vulnerable part of the church as the pigeons can attest . There are multiple levels of the tower with another wobbly ladder that leads higher to the actual bell. I am too chicken to climb since I am worried about the small patches of dry rot in the floor (old water damage) but over all, as a testament to old school construction, the tower looks pretty good especially considering the fact that there is not a steel beam in the whole thing.

The Thompson brothers, or as I think of them: the Fearless Thompsons, clamber up and take pictures of the bell (see…picture of the bell).

We make our way back across the catwalk and I clawed my way down the Ladder of Death to terra firma. The look on my face elicits a chuckle from Mr. Wells.

Hysterics aside I really was in no danger, though by cowering in the corner with my hands over my eyes I could have fooled most anyone. It was the idea that forty feet below me, hidden by a few inches of plaster and insulation, lay much pain should one fall through.

If you use common sense, as in any attic, there is no more danger than say, falling off a roof…wait a minute…I hate roofs!