New Saint Michael's in Kansas City Dedicated

The new Church of Saint Michael the Archangel in Leawood, Kansas was dedicated by Archbishop Joseph Naumann over the weekend within the Vigil Mass for Corpus Christi . CMR readers have seen a number of posts on the church over the last few months, but here are some photos to enjoy. David Meleca, design architect.

The front facade was designed to evoke the Baroque church facades of Rome so that this parish in Kansas might assert its connection to the larger universal Church gathered in unity around the see of Peter. Materials are cast stone, brick and stucco. Interesting to note is the use of a full Doric entablature over the center entry portal and modilions (small blocks) throughout (click image for a larger view). These elaborations are costly and almost universally edited out of new classical works.

The seating of the church is grouped in a Greek cross with seating on three sides, but an attempt was made to give the sanctuary a sense of permeable enclosure. All of the sanctuary finishes are marble including the steps, flooring, altar and front face of the sanctuary's vertical edge. The altar, composed of three types of marble with bronze fittings, was meant to harmonize as a heavenly table with the 24 foot mural on the rear showing Christ in majesty receiving the praise of angels and saints. The legs of the altar signify its "tableness," the mensa its use as a place of sacrifice, and the enclosing panels suggest its tomb like quality recalling the catacombs of the early Church. The altar of repose in front of the mural is temporary while the marble altar is being shipped from Italy. Same for the ambo.

Beneath the figure of Christ is shown St. Michael surrounded by saints and blesseds from the Americas. (The tabernacle is still open because the dedication had not happened yet when these photos were taken.) Notice the Kansas City Power and Light Building in the background of the picture on the right.

The altar of sacrifice includes Composite capitals with bronze versions of the sword of St. Michael embedded.

The dome over the baptistery depicts the Holy Spirit coming down both as the dove and the River of the Water of Life through the starry skies of the glorified cosmos. Notice the red marbleized columns to establish the significance of the baptistery in relation to the sanctuary which has columns with a similar treatment.

Archbishop Naumann accepts the key to the church.


  1. It is a beautiful Church with rich symbolism and uniqueness that will hopefully draw individuals closer to God. That being said though, having been raised in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and with my parents still residing there, I think it is important to note to St. Michael's is fortunate to have the amazing church and school that they have in large part because of the affluence of their parishioners. I mean no ill-will to the people or pastors of that parish but it seems a bit wrong for St. Michael's to spend the millions they did when other parishes in the diocese are struggling to keep up on bills and upkeep of their churches. I'm not saying churches can't be nice, but I do understand there to be some raised eyebrows about this structure and the money that was spent. Just a thought.

  2. I have to say, maybe they spent money that would have gone elsewhere anyway. Its nice to see folks put money, that is to make sacrifices as in previous generations, into their church, their worship space, that is made available to everyone.

  3. Do you have a list of the saints and blesseds pictured?

  4. The new church is absolutely stunning, and sets a new standard for projects of this sort. Let nothing that follows take away from that assessment.

    It would be difficult to use the altar for the Traditional Latin Mass, because it is not built upon steps. Not even one, never mind the traditional three. The "altar of repose" for the tabernacle is built upon three steps, for which it has less cause.

    I'm speaking here of a general trend, not of one example in particular. I have noticed this omission in a number of new churches which purport to reclaim the tradition of sacred buildings. Often the place for the tabernacle is gigantic and elaborately appointed, while the place of Sacrifice is little more than an undistinguished block of stone. To the credit of those who built St Michael's, though, the altar itself is not overpowered by the tabernacle, but is a prominent feature in its own right.

    It seems to me that such projects need to take into account more fully, the reality of a free-standing altar as more than an afterthought added to old buildings, but as part of the intended plan. One is not refitting an historic building here, but starting from scratch. The result should do justice to BOTH orientations for the celebration of the Roman liturgy.

  5. Let's talk a bit about money and churches. It takes money to build anything. And it takes more money to build churches than to build most things...they have high ceilings and marble altars and things that banks don't have. I think we should be glad that people with money have given it to the parish to build a church rather than spend it on new cars and vacations. That being said, it is always more important to love your nighbor than live in luxury... but a beautiful church gives a place for even the poor to see beauty in the worship of God.(By the way, the parish gave $100,000 to an orphanage in Honduras at the completion of the church.)

    St. Michael's spent money in certain way that elaborates the building... like the rich exterior treatment. But churches with smaller budgets can build beautiful things as well. I direct your attention to a new church in VA for $1.25 million:

    Architectural skill, not money, makes a beautiful church. Gaudy overspending is a much bigger problem than spending wisely, even if the amount is large.

  6. David-- Thanks for the comments. You are right that there are no steps around the altar, but remember that the design planning for *this* church began in 2005, long before anyone thought Summorum Pontificum would do what it has done. The current configuration could certainly be used for ad orientem celebration if the parish desired (which I don't believe it does at this point). That being said, your recommendation that the possibility of using the EF should be considered in new churches going forward is a good one.

  7. My husband grew up in KC (pretty affluent family), as a protestant. Visiting family a few years ago before they began the construction of the new church, we went to this parish for Sunday Mass. It was crowded. Three things jumped out at us: the sheer wealth projected by the people at the Mass; the sheer immodesty (soft-pornagraphy?) of a vast majority of the females, young and old, in the congregation; and the fact that the priest skipped the Creed. Otherwise, it was a beautiful Mass--the Black was said, the Red was done. My husband, being a fairly new Catholic and a kind and gentle man, asked the young priest after Mass why he had skipped the creed. The priest explained that the paster wanted the community to have more time between Masses to have fellowship. When gently pressed about the fact that the Creed cannot be dropped from a Sunday Mass, he agreed that my husband was correct and explained that he was not the pastor, and obeyed his pastor's direction. We left with the clear impression that that young man would make a great pastor someday.

    I am thrilled that this parish exists. If other parishes are languishing and cannot afford to build a beautiful church, it is not because they are poor in wealth, but could very well be because thay are poor in faith and orthodox leadership...if Irish, German, and Polish immigrants who lived in abject povery could build the beautiful churches they did without the modern technology available to us today, certainly a "poor" parish in the most affluent country in the world can do it. To say that the money would have been better spent elsewhere is to be a protestant.


  8. Sure looks like there are steps in front of the altar in the right hand picture of the second set down.
    Even if there were not, I'm not sure that would be an absolute impediment to the celebration of the EF.


  9. The building of steps is not "absolutely essential" to the Traditional Mass, but facilitates its proper celebration, inasmuch as it reinforces the hierarchical nature of the Mass. The Hebrews of old were given precise instructions as to how their place of worship was to be constructed. This is a reinforcement of the idea, thus a bridge from the Old Covenant to the New.

    Something like that.

  10. There does not appear to be a permanent altar rail for the kneeling reception of Holy Communion. Perhaps I'm not seeing it correctly. This would be a very sad omission.

  11. Augustine-- you are right. There is a rail but it's not for kneeling. That was not desired by the parish.

  12. Does anyone know if the murals were hand painted, or printed and installed? I would love to see the church be able to give to other churches these visions of rich symbolism, by providing original files or photos(artists permission granted) and reproduce these into the less affluent churches. That's what I do.. anyway....

    As for spending money in churches: In my opinion, we will always have the poor, and to pour perfume onto the feet of Christ like this (metaphorically speaking) is a blessing.

    As long as the spirit of the people is to boast in the Lord, and not in themselves, than it is a good thing.

    Matthew J. Orley
    former Catholic
    Protestant Bible Believer

  13. Matthew-- these mural were hand painted by EverGreene Studios in New York. Since I see that you are a "Bible believer" I hope it pleases you that these murals are deeply, deeply biblical. See this link:


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