Making church sanctuaries accessible to those using wheel chairs, walkers, or canes can be a difficult problem. The spaces surrounding altars are almost always raised and elevated by a number of steps and platforms. This poses a serious problem for lectors or Eucharistic ministers who may be disabled in any way. There is certainly the possibility that a future pastor or deacon would be unable to gain access to the sanctuary and altar because of a disability.
The roles of lector, Eucharistic minister and altar server should also be available to persons with disabilities. We would be limiting the opportunity to many in our communities if these important roles of service are not within their reach. For these reasons, it is important for St. Vincent de Paul Parish to make our church sanctuary fully accessible. This will include the altar, ambo and tabernacle.
The ramp, with the required handrail, will be on the east side of the sanctuary. It will follow the brick wall from the lowest level of the church passing by the present tabernacle and reach the level of the sanctuary near the statue of St. Vincent de Paul. The present level of the altar will be extended and enlarged to fill most of the area of the sanctuary. A handrail will also be placed close to the ambo to make access for lectors safer and more secure.
The entire flooring of the sanctuary will of the same wood as the main aisle. A repeating pattern will contribute to its beauty. An area rug will be placed behind the altar. Its color and pattern will complement the fabrics that will be used for the cushions on the benches and furniture in the sanctuary and throughout the church. With the moving of the tabernacle, the priest’s and ministers’ chairs can be more appropriately placed facing the congregation.
A beautiful quality carpet will be chosen for the body of the church, under the pews, the side aisles, sacristies, family room and other areas of the church.