Awards and Recognition
The restoration projects accomplished by the Oratory have caught the attention of the community and has gained us fans across the country. In accordance with its mission to promote the renewal of the Fox Park and Tower Grove East neighborhoods, the DeSales Community Housing Corporation recognizes outstanding projects which contribute to the improvement and beautification of the neighborhood.
On three separate occasions since 2005, the DeSales Community Housing Corporation has given the Saint Francis de Sales Oratory the Golden Brick Award in recognition of its accomplishments on the Saint Francis de Sales campus.
In 2017, Art and Liturgy conducted the annual Church Madness competition in which Saint Francis the Sales Oratory was voted the "Most Beautiful Church in America." The competition was modelled on the annual March Madness of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament.
2017 Most Beautiful Church in America
The Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, sometimes called the Cathedral of South Saint Louis, was completed in 1908. It was the tallest church in the country at the time of its completion having being designed in the same style as the tallest church in Germany, the Ulm Minster, first by architects brought over from Berlin in the country of origin of the first parishioners, and then by Victor Klutho, a local St. Louis architect. An excellent example of gothic revival architecture at the turn of the last century, the "Cathedral of South Saint Louis" was recently voted the most beautiful Church in America in the Church Madness 2017 competition conducted by Art and Liturgy of Granda Liturgical Arts.
This has brought welcome attention to the Cathedral of South Saint Louis from the local media: Fox 2 News.
2011 Golden Brick Award
On behalf of the Oratory, Canon Michael K. Wiener attended the reception on Thursday, June 16, and gratefully accepted the award from Executive Director of DeSales Community Housing Corporation, Mr. Tom Pickel.
In contrast to the previous two awards, the “2011 Golden Brick” highlights an exterior improvement of the church. The courtyard garden project began with the installation of a wrought iron gate, delineating a garden space between the rectory and the convent. Once excavation began, it was discovered that underneath the asphalt was a lovely old brick courtyard. Over half of the salvaged old bricks were of very good quality, and are reused today in the paved walk way in the newly designed garden.
An American poet from the Nineteenth Century, Lucy Larcom, once wrote, “He who plants a tree, plants hope.” Slowly, the small trees, shrubs, and perennials are gradually taking root in this garden on the St. Francis de Sales campus. Where the ground was once paved with hard asphalt, soft rich earth now nourishes an urban oasis of verdant plants and pretty flowers.
The visibly vigorous plantings on our campus are indeed lovely additions to the Oratory’s exterior and reflect the growth of the Oratory community. This garden project was made possible through the generous donation of a benefactor, and many man-hours of hard work contributed by a Oratory members. As on previous two occasions, this Golden Brick award belongs to all of you, for without the dedication and unwavering support of all Oratory members and friends, the continued restoration of St. Francis de Sales would not be possible.
2010 Golden Brick Award
On Wednesday, June 30, 2010, St. Francis de Sales Oratory received the “2010 Golden Brick Award” for the renovation of the Convent building. The DeSales Community Housing Corporation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the renewal of the Fox Park and Tower Grove East neighborhoods of St. Louis, bestowed the award to recognize the Oratory's commitment towards improving its neighborhood.
After years of disuse and neglect, the Convent was in a seriously dilapidated condition. Renovation began in August of 2009. It involvedcomplete cleaning, stripping and refinishing of old floors, complete overhaul of the kitchen, the foyer and several rooms, repair of broken windows and window frames, re-plumbing of sinks and bathrooms, installation of new cabinetry and light fixtures, and repainting of walls and moldings.
With the help of more than one thousand man-hours from many volunteers and generous benefactors, the renovation consisted of a completed foyer, several rooms in the living and sleeping quarters, dining room, a modern and functional kitchen, new stair case, new floors, and newly painted walls in the hallway and in many rooms.
2008 Golden Brick Award
Renovation efforts at St. Francis de Sales Oratory have received public recognition with the reception of the "Golden Brick Award," bestowed by the DeSales Community Housing Corporation.
The Corporation, which spun off from St. Francis de Sales Parish as a separate legal entity decades ago, awards projects that have contributed positively to the Tower Grove East and Fox Park neighborhoods. Nominees may include businesses, institutions, or even individuals that have demonstrated a commitment towards improving the neighborhoods.
In 2008, the Oratory won the award for the renovation of the vesting sacristy in the church building, a renovation which resulted in the replication of a chapel built by St. Louis King of France. The project was considered significant, especially because the sacristy project was involved in a Papal award, the Bene Merenti, recently given to Abbe Alexander Willweber of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.
The Fox Park Neighborhood Association regards the Oratory campus as the "anchor" of the neighborhood. The award was rceived by Canon Karl W. Lenhardt, Rector of the Oratory at the time, on Wednesday, July 9, 2008, in a presentation ceremony.
Other Tangible Effects of Restoration:
True to this church’s status as the anchor of the neighborhood, the restoration of St. Francis de Sales through usage, in so far as it contributes to the renewal and improvement of the Fox Park Neighborhood, has brought other tangible effects: a reduction in crime rate and an increasingly positive perception of the neighborhood.