Over two and a half years after a tragic fire burned Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Franklin Lakes, NJ to the ground, a crowd gathered this past Saturday to witness a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction on the newly designed rebuild of the beloved house of worship. Church leaders and members of the parish were in attendance alongside Franklin Lakes Mayor, Frank Bivona, township officials, and representatives of the Newark Archdiocese. Project architects LAN Associates and Foresight Architects, who collaboratively designed the new house of worship, were also in attendance, as was Donnelly Construction who will be building the new house of worship.
The original structure was located near the Franklin Lakes round-about from which the low-lying church was visible despite its humbly sited placement on surrounding natural landscape. The design goal of the new church was to provide an updated yet traditional facility, but with a more prominent location on the property. The new church’s connection to the community and visual presence will be increased, not only by the structure’s welcoming design but also its placement, which will be closer to the nearby traffic circle.
“The loss of the worship space of the Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament was a tragic event for our parish, but with the support of the community and the help of our talented design team we are not only rebuilding, but we are improving and re-establishing our place of worship for future generations” said Father John R. Job. “The new design and artistic vision speak to the needs of our community and will be a beacon of inspiration for all through its new prominent placement.”
The new church will be built to accommodate a main worship space with increased seating and overflow space, which remain in the same tradition of seating in the round. The design will also include a daily chapel that can seat 100 people, a narthex/lobby, and a community gathering space with adjacent flex dining and youth spaces.
The church will have a more traditional design with a classic yet contemporary aesthetic and will be built using a variety of materials including stone, precast, metals, and glass, which will be used to achieve a warm and new inviting worship space.
The historic bells from the surviving bell tower will be integrated into the design of the new building as an integral element for all parishioners to experience on a weekly basis as they walk under them to enter the building. The baptismal font will be in the front near the entrance with a direct line to the altar symbolizing the path to life.
“The design of the new Most Blessed Sacrament Church is the highlight of my career,” said LAN Assistant Vice President and project architect Matt Wolfe. “To take part in a project that was born in tragedy and watch as our design work has inspired and uplifted the church community is heartening. I am honored to have played a role in such a notable community project that will be a significant landmark for years to come.”
LAN Associates provided architecture, interior design, civil engineering, surveying, land use services, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering in support of the project. Architectural design was completed in collaboration with liturgical architect Foresight Architects. With construction now underway, the new house of worship is anticipated to be open to parishioners in late 2023.