The 100-year-old historical structure has been spruced up completely.
The consecration ceremony of the recently restored St. Teresa’s Church, Nungambakkam, was held on Dec. 8. The solemn Eucharistic celebration was presided by Rev. Dr. A.M. Chinnappa, Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore. The occasion was also graced by Rt Rev. Dr. Antony Devotta, Bishop of Tiruchirappalli, Rt Rev Dr. Neethinathan, Bishop of Chengalpattu and Rt Rev Dr. Lawrence Pius Durairaj, Bishop of Dharmapuri.
Thanks to the efforts of Rev. Fr. P.J. Lawrence Raj, Parish priest, St. Teresa Church, the old structure has been restored completely. New features have been added and the old ones have been spruced up completely. “The year 2012 is special as it is the Centenary Year for St. Teresa’s Church. She will be completing hundred years of her presence in the Archdiocese of Madras-Mylapore. The celebrations are indeed privileged ones for us. We have painstakingly tried to restore and reflect the spirit of antiquity by restoring the church,” said Fr. P.J. Lawrence Raj.
There have been a lot of creative endeavours for the celebrations. Attention has been given to maintain the historical heritage and meticulous planning has gone into adding new aesthetics to the church. The window panes in the church have been replaced with colourful stained glass from Thrissur.
Miracles of Jesus or Stations of the Cross have been brought out well on the imported glass panes. The pews in the church have also been changed completely. On the wings on either side of the main alter, new pews have been put up. The pews, each costing Rs. 35,000, have been sourced from Tindivanam Industrial School run by Montford Brothers. “About 700 people can attend the mass at the chapel now,” said the Parish priest.
The wings, right and left side of the church have been extended by nearly 9 feet to seat more people. This has also facilitated the authorities to build new corridors to accommodate seven statues including St. Jude (second patron of the church); St. Antony, St. Alphonsa, Pieta (Mother Mary holding the body of Jesus Christ) and Mother Mary.
Roofing and Bell tower
The main altar, which was just a wooden structure, has now been replaced with marble. According to Fr. Lawrence Raj, the old crucifix is being used on a new wooden cross in the Church. “Ramps have been created to make the church more accessible to the elderly. There will be no more hymn books as the hymns will be shown on an LCD monitor. The sound system too has been replaced,” he added.
The ceiling and the walls have been lined with wooden panels. In the centre of the ceiling the picture of holy spirit has been engraved in glass mosaic.
On wooden panels around it, holy spirts, which signify the Litergical symbols pertaining to the holy mass rituals that take place in the church, have been engraved.
Above the Tabernacle, an opening has been made to enable free flow of sunlight. Crucifix, with statues of Mary and St. John on either side, has been installed. The new glass mosaic behind the crucifix has been designed in such a way that it symbolises the grace of god. Similarly, on both sides of the Blessed Sacrament, angels in kneeling form have been carved on glass mosaic.
A new 7-storied bell tower has been built at a cost of Rs. 10 lakhs. The 75-feet tall structure has been fitted with a new Panchaloka bell (weighing 350 kg, costing Rs. 7 lakhs) imported from Poland. Another added feature is a towering the 46-feet tall flag mast plated with copper.
St. Teresa’s Church, Nungambakkam, established in 1912, is located in the heart of city. This Parish was under the control of the Mill Hill Fathers until 1929. Later, it came under the control of the Diocese of Madras. The people at this parish are engaged in uplifting the poor through education.
Three schools are attached to it and they offer integral information and leadership training to more than 3,000 students who mostly come from the nearby slums. In view of the centenary year, the church is also organising religious tours to the Holy Land and to Goa. Hundred hours of Eucharistic adoration was conducted as a preparation for the blessing of the restored church.