6th & Broadway
Parish Mission Statement
Rich in tradition, we are nourished by Word and Eucharist to live Jesus.
Parish HistoryFr. Elisha Durbin, a priest with missionary zeal who ministered throughout western Kentucky, first began gathering Catholics in Paducah in 1848. These first Masses were held in the home of John Grief, located on the south side of Kentucky Avenue west of 6th Street.
Property for the church was purchased on May 8, 1848 from Thomas Brandon for $225. The first church, built of brick with a unique blue limestone foundation, was erected by parishioners in 1849 and sat well back from Broadway. It was surrounded by a high fence so that livestock could roam freely on the grounds.
A second, much larger church was built in 1870 under the direction of the pastor, Fr. Ivo Schacht. This church, also built of brick, was much nearer Broadway. Part of the old church was converted into a rectory for the use of the Carmelite priests who then served the parish.
The cornerstone of the present church was laid on June 5, 1899, and the church was dedicated on May 13, 1900. It was built of pitchedface, buffbrick with Bedford stone trimmings, and its style suggests Italian Renaissance with two domed bell towers. While construction was underway, Mass was celebrated in Lehrer’s Hall over a grocery store on the southwest corner of Seventh Street and Kentucky Avenue. The Pastor at this time was Fr. H. W. Jansen. The cost of the construction was $35,000.
The mural above the altar, representing the Ascension, was painted by Leo Mirabile, a native of Sicily, in 1936. In 1949 he returned to repaint the mural and to add portraits of ten saints to the overhead walls. In 1984, the tabernacle was removed from the high altar and a Eucharistic Chapel was built. The altar we currently use was donated by St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Kentucky, in 1987. The baptismal pool was constructed and new lighting installed in the church in 1997. In 2004, a new Parish Hall was completed.
The parishes of St. Thomas More (1943) and Rosary Chapel (1947) were founded from St. Francis de Sales.
The restoration of St. Francis de Sales Church was envisioned as a
way of returning the architectural integrity to the building while
continuing to respond to the needs of contemporary Roman Catholic
worship. Under the direction of Anthony Kartsonas, owner of Historic
Surfaces LLC in Chicago, IL, the restoration artists included Susan
Buchholz, Nick Pavlis, Stephan Giannini, and Jeff Wolf.
The Church Building
Under the direction of Chris Black of Ray Black and Son, Inc. in Paducah, important improvements were made to the outside of the building to weatherproof and maintain its character. All the Stained Glass Windows were improved with cleaning, painting, and the replacement of the protective covering with vented plate glass. The interior had experienced unfortunate acoustical treatment in the upper areas in 1949. This treatment was removed. Later additions to the interior were removed. In the case of the familiar, though of a later date, apostles, these paintings on canvas were relocated to the corridor of the Parish Hall. The overall painting design is meant to complete the interior architecture and design and to offer a more historically correct, complete vision of the church. The pews have been replaced, copying the style of the originals, and the terrazzo floors have been restored. Preliminary provisions for an upgraded heating and cooling system have been made in the church.
Stained Glass Windows
The symbols are located in the circle at the top of each window.
The need to improve the functionality of the organ, originating in 1939 and built by the Reuter Organ Company of Lawrence, Kansas, necessitated the relocation of the organ pipes from the towers where temperature changes affected their performance. By placing them in the front and to the right of the Sanctuary, we were able to create a more functional and appropriate music ministry space. Occupying the alcove, the organ, newly constructed by the Miller Pipe Organ Company of Louisville, Kentucky, consists of 7 vintage and 10 new ranks of pipes with 30 stops. Mechanically new, it is electric-valve actuated with a detached 2 manual console. This move necessitated the removal of the side altar that was deemed more suitable for the reservation of the Eucharist in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
Blessed Sacrament Chapel
By updating the heating and cooling system, the full height ceiling was returned to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, increasing its aesthetic appeal, and allowing for the use of the side altar from the church. The original bronze tabernacle door was returned to the church, restored and is now in use for the Tabernacle. The interior of this chapel was painted reflecting color and design from the church. Devotional statues of Mary and Joseph have also been placed in this chapel.
Baptismal Pool and Fonts
The lift was removed from the Sanctuary and a series of
ramps were constructed allowing barrier free access to the Sanctuary as
well as the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The removal of the lift and a
piece of the communion rail, now in the votive niche, allows the
baptismal pool and fonts
more visual prominence and functions better for
baptisms. The introduction of the painted medallion over the Blessed
Sacrament Chapel doors further identifies this part of the church with
the Initiation Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The
central octagon is a symbol for the “eighth day”, the day of
resurrection and an early, preferred shape for baptismal fonts. The
cross formed by four flows of water depicts the four rivers. This image
was used in early baptisteries and has its roots in the Old Testament.
One reference is here below from the blessing of water:
The wheat and grapes of the Eucharist surround the central images and the circular wreath contains olive leaves and fruit, the material of the holy oils used in our sacramental celebrations.
This former confessional area was reordered to serve as a place of
prayer and intercession for the parish. The newly commissioned central
panels, by Stephan Giannini, depict our patron St. Francis de Sales and
his contemporary St. Jane Frances de Chantel. St. Francis was
instrumental in helping people develop their lives spiritually through
direction and formation. St. Jane, a wife and mother who later
the Order of the Visitation, was guided by St. Francis de Sales and,
like him, developed devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Portraits of Apostles & Evangelists
These paintings, on canvas, are located in the corridor of the Parish Hall. They include Saints Peter, John, Mark, Andrew, Jude, Paul, Matthew, Luke, Philip, and James.
|©2006-2012 St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church|