The National Catholic Partnership on Disability in partnership with Loyola Press recently announced that St. John Neumann Catholic Church is the 2014 winner of the Loyola Press Parish Award.
Judges noted that St. John Neumann Parish has gone above and beyond to make their sacred space accessible to everyone, who worships there. They also stated, “The sacred space maintains its beauty and purpose while being accessible to all and allow for person with physical disabilities to worship and to minister at the parish. “Being sensitive to the needs of others is not a separate space or program; it is an organic part of the church and its community.”
Executive Director of NCPD Janice Benton says, “The parish of St. John Neumann has truly spared no effort to make their church accessible to the last detail. They have done this in an effort to ensure this today, and also for the future. This means that priests and parishioners will have access and continue their ministry at the altar.”
CDH Partners created a master plan that made sure the physical features of the church embodied a spirit of inclusion. The plan called for the construction of new 850-seat sanctuary along with the addition of classrooms and storage space. There was a conscience effort by the design team to move those who stepped into the worship center from “secular to sacred.”
Natural finishes create a sense of warmth, worship, and welcome. Parish doors are equipped with pulls so those in wheelchairs can easily navigate through the building. The main entrances have automatic door openers. The reading desk in the ambo along with the altar has been adjusted in height. An 80 by 120-foot plaza connects the existing church building to the new sanctuary. A principle feature of this church is the life-size baptismal font located in the front of the narthex. The church’s main aisle is elongated and contains light fixtures that provide beams of warm light on either side of the nave and the narthex. The tile pattern of the floor is used to connect the nave to sanctuary.