What does a typical American Catholic church look like? In something I was working on last night, I wrote about a set of (usually suburban) churches: “Not even distinguished enough to be bad examples of their kind, they just are —each one vaguely modern, vaguely brick, vaguely disappointing.”

I know exactly the kind of Catholic church I mean, but coming up with examples has proved difficult, probably because they are so forgettable. I strained my memory and did some Internet browsing, and I came up with these possibilities:

  • St. Ambrose in Salt Lake City

  • Saints Peter and Paul in Pierre, South Dakota

  • St. Jane Frances de Chantal in Bethesda, Maryland

  • St. Pius X in Toledo

  • Christ the King in Omaha

  • Holy Cross in South Portland, Maine

  • Our Lady of Peace in Marshfield, Wisconsin

  • St. Eugene in Asheville, North Carolina
  • Of course, the truth is that half the Catholic churches in the United States look like this, but surely there are better examples than the ones I found on a first survey—although that church in my hometown of Pierre is hard to beat.

    Personally, I don’t much care for, say, the new cathedral in Los Angeles or the modernist abbey Collegeville, Minnesota. But at least they try to be something. The churches I’m hunting for—I know you’ve seen them—are the brick all-American modern things that fail even at the job of being awful. If you’ve got some examples, please send them along (with links to pictures, if you can find them) to ft@firstthings.com.

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