A Church Transfigured: Preaching in the Language of Beauty

Religious Art

Story and photos by SueAnn Howell, Senior reporter,

Originally Published by the Catholic News Herald

Fr. Benjamin Roberts in front of one of the murals

MONROE — In just two years’ time, the interior of Our Lady of Lourdes Church has witnessed a transformation of Biblical proportions.

Father Benjamin Roberts, pastor, working with local artist Lisa Autry, has brought pivotal moments from Scripture to the formerly blank walls of the church in new murals thanks in part to money raised during the Diocese of Charlotte’s “Forward in Faith, Hope, and Love” campaign. An image of the Lamb of God is prominently centered over the tabernacle, and scenes from the Baptism of the Lord and the Transfiguration flank the altar.

The scenes are part of Father Roberts’ larger goal to promote an experience of heaven as people gather for worship.

“The Book of Revelation and the Letter to the Hebrews offer us images of heavenly worship,” he explains. “When we gather as a community for the celebration of the Eucharist, we participate in that worship. The beautiful artwork in this church (the windows, the Angels, the Lamb and the murals) draw us into a deeper encounter with the Lord.”

Click here to see the rest of the article and the slide show featuring many more photos of the murals on the website of the Catholic News Herald

(Editor’s Note: Fr. Harry Winter, OMI provides some background on Fr. Robert’s Oblate connection:)

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Monroe, NC was pastored by Oblates Don Joyce (1973-76), George Waggett (1976-78), Paul McCartin (1978-82) and Marty Walsh (1982-88). From 1988-2000, the Spiritan Fathers administered the parish. It was then taken over by the Diocese of Charlotte, NC.

The current pastor, Father Benjamin Roberts, made two years with us at Bishop Fallon Pre-Novitiate, Buffalo, NY, receiving with highest honors the BA in Philosophy in 2004.  He entered our novitiate in August, 2004, and left in March, 2005.  One of his First Masses was celebrated at Holy Angels Church, Buffalo, NY on July 5, 2009, and he has remained close to us.

The Catholic News Herald of the Diocese of Charlotte featured his efforts to use art to attract people to Our Lady of Lourdes:  click here for text and video.

Fr. Roberts has become fluent in Spanish to help the many Spanish speaking in the area, and is completing a doctorate in ministry at Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis, MO, while he is pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes.

He extends a cordial invitation to Oblates to visit our former parish. May we respond by praying that the art work now being done in the church will attract many people.