Of weedy wheat

Saint Catherine of Siena Episcopal Church

Rev. Laurie Chappelle leads her flock from the altar in the chapel at Bishop Manogue High School.

Rev. Laurie Chappelle leads her flock from the altar in the chapel at Bishop Manogue High School.

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

Saint Catherine of Siena Episcopal Church meets in the chapel in the main school building at 110 Bishop Manogue Drive at 11 a.m. on Sundays.

This was my first trip to the Bishop Manogue Catholic High School campus. I was invited there by the Rev. Laurie Chappelle, an Episcopal priest. Saint Catherine of Siena Episcopal Church has been meeting in the chapel at Bishop Manogue for about a year and a half. Three things: I think the campus is gorgeous, I think it’s really cool that the Episcopalians have services in the Catholic chapel, and I think the chapel itself is flat beautiful.

Spreading the love, I guess. Do I really need to write a service rundown after that lede paragraph?

The earth-toned chapel is basically designed along the lines of theater in the round. Think of it as a pie with one thin slice missing. The simple altar, with green altar cloths, is near the front of that missing slice. A little to the right is a lectern (pulpit). Next to the altar is a cross on a stand. There are simple flower bouquets on the floor at the fore.

The ceiling is peaked with large wood beams supporting the roof. Near the peak are clear glass windows, letting the sun in. There are also hanging lights, which emit a full-spectrum light to keep things comfortably lit, but natural.

As is true with so many of the churches in Reno and Sparks, the stained glass is just stunning. I wish somebody would hurry up and make the picture book showing all the styles of spiritual stained glass in the Truckee Meadows because if someone else doesn’t get on it, I’m going to have to do it myself.

There is a statue of Mary at one side of the sanctuary and Joseph on the other. Statuettes of the Stations of the Cross complete the ring. The seating is wooden chairs arranged in four sections. I’d guess the chapel would hold about 200 souls. OK, 200 people, infinite souls. There are about 50 people present this late Sunday morning.

At the risk of getting creamed by the experts, I’ll generalize and say the Episcopals and Catholics have very similar beliefs, but they also have widely divergent views on some things. For example, the priest, Rev. Chappelle, is a woman.

Hunter and I followed along with the program. That’s one of the great things about the Episcopal “bulletins,” a stranger can walk in and follow right along. Everything is contained from a description to how to receive communion to the readings to the hymns. There’s even a little interpretation of the readings at the front of this one. I’m glad I’m not the person who has to interpret how the three readings relate to one another (Genesis 28: 10-19a; Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 12:24-30, 36-43), but in this case, I’d say it’s pretty straightforward: There will be a future; be prepared for it.

Rev. Chappelle mostly referred to the Gospel reading in her sermon. For those who aren’t familiar, this is Jesus’ parable of the weeds sewn into the wheat. The weeds and wheat look very similar until harvest time, but at harvest, the weeds would be separated from the wheat, and the weeds would be burned while the wheat would go to the barn.

“Jesus is trying to teach us to leave the judgment to him,” said the priest. “When we’re tempted to judge, we need to step back lest we become the darnel [weed grass] that Jesus intends to use for bonfires. … The challenge for all of us is to be good wheat rather than trashing the weeds around us.”

I don’t know how long the Episcopal congregation will remain in the Catholic chapel, but I sure like the metaphor. I think it’s great when groups that are supposed to be different (and I suppose competitive) come together and show that they’re more similar than different.