New Century, New Focus
The restoration of St. Francis de Sales is not about archiving the past, but about serving the present and future needs of our community, using the venerable traditions of our rich heritage.
The new focus is three-fold: Family, Children, and Tradition.
New Focus on Family: Building Blocks of Our Community
St. Francis de Sales’ centennial celebration in 2008 – the Kirchweihfest – was attended by people from all walks of life, from families just starting to raise children to the empty-nesters, and everyone in between. Two consecutive annual surveys from 2010-11 revealed that the new congregation of St. Francis de Sales has a median age of less than 30 years old, including many young families with children. The church building may be old, but the youthful families it attracts are as vigorous as ever.
New Focus on Children: Our Future
Records show that on the day St. Francis de Sales church held its first service in 1867, three babies were baptized. After building the church, a school was the first building the 1867 congregation erected. Clearly, the education and the nurturing of children have been an important priority since the founding of this church – and they still are!
St. Francis de Sales’ former school building and gymnasiums are ideal for our partnership with KIPP Academy, which serves many young students of St. Louis. In addition, St. Francis de Sales Oratory actively encourages and supports its members to pursue the best education options for their children. Two consecutive summer-time Children’s Choir Camp, and school-year children’s choirs and drama clubs have been successful and popular venues for the children’s formation.
New Focus on Beauty in Music and Art: Our Tradition
To walk into St. Francis de Sales is to be surrounded by many tangible forms of beauty: in the brilliantly colored stained glass, in the stately architecture, and in the abundance of old-world, expertly crafted church furnishings. No wonder that the Oratory has been a popular subject of many photographers! On Sundays and feast days, the glowing liturgy at the ornate High Altar is always accompanied by inspirational sacred music performed by trained choirs comprised of many adults and children members of the Oratory community.
Indeed, one aspect of our preservation work is to bring to life the repository of sacred music used in the Church’s highest liturgies. A living tradition, sacred music has enriched the hearts and minds of many souls in every age through the centuries. At St. Francis de Sales, the ever-growing repertoire of ancient chant, classical polyphony, including contemporary compositions, and magnificent organ pieces can be heard in the context forwhich they were composed.