Founded in 1956, St. Monica is a Roman Catholic parish located in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. We are one of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese with approximately 3,000 families. St. Monica Parish is known as a diverse community, as we are blessed with a variety of ethnic backgrounds that enable us to see church with a global view.
Our parish theme is Immersed in Christ: One Body. One Mission. It’s the guiding theme for our Parish Pastoral Council, our parish staff, and our ministries. We believe inclusion in the mission of Christ, spiritual growth, and participation in the Mission of Jesus Christ are important for every person and every ministry in the parish, allowing us to build upon the unity that we already share as part of the one body, the one Spirit, sharing in one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.
History of St. Monica Parish
St. Monica Parish was first formed as a congregation under Father Paul Utz in 1956. The Parish consisted of 222 families from St. Michael and St. Thomas Aquinas churches with a commitment to build a school for their children and establish a parish. The cornerstone of the first church was laid on May 6, 1957. The doors of St. Monica School opened in September 1957 staffed by Sisters of St. Francis from Oldenburg, Indiana, with Sister Mary Jerome Schroeder as principal.
The young parish adopted the new vision of church presented by Vatican Council II, convened under Pope John XXIII. One of the fruits was the formation of the St. Monica Parish Pastoral Council in 1975. Through the elected council, members of the laity shared responsibility for the leadership and administration of the Parish, its spiritual growth and its social development. Today we no longer hold elections for parish council; members discern for a three-year position in which they serve as the eyes and ears of the parish, helping to bring relevant and timely issues before the pastor and council for discussion and examination.
Our Parish is noted for the diversity of its people: a variety of ethnic backgrounds, of singles and families, and homes that include apartments, condominiums, rehabilitation and long term care facilities, and traditional housing. The Parish borders in northwestern Marion County encompass neighborhoods, commercial centers, medical facilities, and industrial and commercial parks. In area, it is one of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese.
St. Monica Sanctuary
Our present sanctuary, built to accommodate the growing membership, was designed by the architectural firm of Woolen, Molzan and Partners, Kalevi Huotilainen and Kevin Huse, architects, and dedicated during its first liturgical service on December 20, 1992.
Our church building is a symbol of the people who built it, God's living stones. The features of this building represent the decisions of parishioners who worked together to interpret the needs and preferences of the Parish, in keeping with current liturgical guidelines.
On September 9, 2015, a fire destroyed the Narthex and caused heavy smoke and water damage to the church space and the Parish Office. The opportunity was taken to renovate the damaged spaces, with a new, larger baptism font constructed of granite being installed in the Narthex and a new ambry to house the oils used for sacramental anointing. The current Blessed Sacrament Chapel was moved from its old location at the back of the sanctuary to a more prominent place at the front of the church, behind the altar. The Chapel shelters the tabernacle for the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament, the consecrated hosts available for distribution to shut-ins, the sick and the dying. The lamp burning outside of the Chapel indicates the presence of the reserved Blessed Sacrament, the Real Presence of Christ. The large stained-glass windows of the new Chapel were designed by Br. Martin Erspamer, O.S.B., a monk of St. Meinrad Archabbey in Southern Indiana. They depict two angels in Adoration of the Tabernacle, which is now visible from the church through a clear circular window.
The former Blessed Sacrament space was then turned into a devotional chapel in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who was declared Patroness of the Americas by Pope Pius XII in 1946. The framed image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an authentic, life-sized reproduction of the miraculous image in Mexico, and was acquired directly from the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. The stained-glass windows located just outside of the chapel were also designed by Br. Martin, and depict the roses in bloom that are always associated with Our Lady of Guadalupe. The chapel can be accessed from the Narthex or from inside the sanctuary.
Near the sanctuary entrance to the Guadalupe Chapel is the Reconciliation Room. The Reconciliation Room provides a private place for priest and penitent to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Penitents have the option of receiving the sacrament anonymously behind a screen, or they can speak directly to the priest face to face.
Our sanctuary is where the parish family gathers to hear the Word of God, to offer prayers individually and together, and to celebrate the holy mysteries of the Mass. Seating in the main sanctuary is curved to bring the altar closer to the people. This emphasizes our unity as a parish and the centrality of Eucharist in our lives. The sanctuary seats up to 780 people.
The Narthex entrance to St. Monica was designed to provide a spacious, hospitable gathering area for our community to use before and after Masses. The gathering space was a primary feature identified by parishioners as very important to our community. At the Narthex entrance to the Sanctuary, the flowing water of the baptismal font reminds each person entering the church of our commitment as Christians. It is symbolically placed at the entrance to the church where our lives as Christians begin.
The altar is the center of the church, the stone upon which is offered the sacrifice of the Mass, as Christ is the center of our lives and the foundation of our faith. Our altar includes a white marble slab that holds relics of Saints Boniface and Bonono as a physical reminder of our communion with all Christians through the ages and especially of those in heaven who pray for us. (We know that St. Boniface was from England and was an apostle to Germany, where he was martyred. We have not been able to find out the history of St. Bonono, but we revere him or her as an example of the "unsung saints" among us whom we encounter every day.) The surface of the stone is etched with five crosses to remind us of the wounds of Christ. The celebrant kisses this stone at the opening of each Mass. The altar area was designed with ramps to be accessible to priests and parishioners who are physically handicapped. In the wall behind the altar, four windows form a cross to remind us of the four Gospels and of Christ's directive to his disciples: Go forth and spread the Gospel to the four corners of the world.
The Cross is a basic Christian symbol and is prominent in church architecture, art, rites, and traditions. Carried in processions, it is a reminder of Christ's death and resurrection, of his invitation to his followers to pick up the cross and follow him. In our sanctuary, the large wooden crucifix over the altar, also designed and created by Br. Martin, incorporates the hand-carved corpus and titulus from the original crucifix that had been donated by charter members of the parish for the original St. Monica sanctuary in 1956.
The organ for the main sanctuary was designed by Tom Magee of the Rodgers Classic Organs in Indianapolis, and built in Hillsboro, Oregon. It is a two manual instrument with 49 stops and has the capability of adding actual organ pipes in the future. A computerized Sequencer-Sound Module attached to the console adds more than 300 additional sounds to the organ and will also allow organists to record performances for future replaying.
The major window in the sanctuary depicts symbols of our patroness, Saint Monica: blue for her fidelity even through adversity; the eye in the center, turned upward, just as she kept her focus on God and prayer. A red dove in the center of the eye suggests the gentleness and patience of Saint Monica, whose example of virtue helped convert her pagan husband. A pale blue teardrop is a reminder of the prayers of a wife and mother whose son had turned from the
faith. To the left, green fragments form a laurel wreath, symbolic of the philosophy studies of her son who became St. Augustine, a Doctor of the Church. In contrast, on the right, a circlet of brown evokes the crown of thorns, contrasting the laurel wreath of the worldly philosopher versus the message of humility from Christ. The clear glass arch is symbolic of the philosopher's learning, which, through the grace of God, was transformed into a faith that changed lives. Throughout the window, outlines form other symbols for knowledge, wisdom and understanding. A flame spreads from a lamp of knowledge. Curving lines at the bottom center of the window mimic the unfolding pages of a Bible, wisdom. A dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit and of understanding, leads us toward truth.
Seven windows on the south wall beneath the St. Monica window bear symbols of the seven sacraments that grace our lives as Christians. The Sacrament Windows were designed by former parishioner Lynnell Nelson and constructed by parish volunteers, as were the colored glass windows that were moved from the original sanctuary to the Daily Chapel and Narthex entrances.