Every year, the Nashotah House community has the opportunity to tour churches in either the Milwaukee or Chicago areas. In preparation for this year’s tour, I interviewed Canon Joseph Kucharski, Professor of Church Music at Nashotah House and Canon Precenter for the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, the organizer of the tour. This is the first in a series of two articles about the Church Tour, the second of which will post next week.
Q. How long has the church tour been going on?
A. This is actually the 19th year of the church tour.
Q. What was your inspiration for the tour?
A. The tour grew out of my elective class, The Anglican Choral Tradition. In the course, we look at the advancement of music, liturgy and architecture from the pre-reformation period up to the present in the English Church, and discuss its influence of the Oxford Movement on the American Church. One student asked some questions about Milwaukee churches that I attended as a child, and I thought, why don’t we visit some as a class. So, my 8 students and I took off an afternoon and carpooled into Milwaukee to see some of the great church buildings. Eventually, others students on campus heard about it and asked if they could do something similar in the future. Dean Kriss liked the idea very much and suggested a seminary tour in place of classes once a year. Since then, we’ve rented as many as two busses to hold everyone and extended the tour to the Chicago area on alternate years.
Q. What do you hope students (and others) get out of the tour? Why should someone spend a whole day going from church to church in Milwaukee or Chicago?
Q. Where are you taking the tour this year?
A. We are visiting the Episcopal and Roman cathedrals, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, The Milwaukee Art Museum, St. Joseph’s Convent Chapel, the Basilica of St. Josaphat, and St. Sava’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral.
Q. Is anything particularly exciting you about this year’s tour?
A. Every year I enjoy the look of awe on the faces of students who have never been in large church buildings or churches decorated in a European style. So many American churches are rather plain. These buildings are inspirational; they raise one’s spirit and speak of the beauty and transcendence of God.