Mobile Chapels

I’m in the mind to continue this theme. I remember reading a book by Fr Werenfried van Straaten about his work in eastern Germany just after World War II in the flattened and devastated cities. This is one of the most remarkable priests of the twentieth century, a Norbertine Canon, who bred pigs on his monastery farm to get salt meat over to Germany to feed the people he was ministering to. For this reason, he got nicknamed the “Bacon Priest”. I have always appreciated the work of Aid to the Church in Need, and it was my great privilege to sail for this charity two years ago in the Naviclerus regatta.

L'aigleAid to the Church in Need still does wonderful work in the world, especially where Christians are persecuted by intolerant Muslims. I discuss this wonderful priest and ACN because they had an original way of bringing Mass and the Sacraments to those suffering people. Fr Werenfried launched a Rucksack Priest campaign with priests going out in cars and on motorcycles to those who were still displaced. He used decommissioned army trucks to make mobile chapels. In the truck, there would be some basic living accommodation for the priest and a sacristy. The central section would open up to reveal the sanctuary of the chapel. The congregation would attend Mass from where they were standing in the street.

ACN-chapelMobile chapels are used in the USA. The early ones were quite sweet like this one.

mobile-church-tiny-house-of-godIn later times, they became quite tacky and vulgar in their style. This one appears to be from the 1950’s, operating according to similar idea to that of the ACN vehicles:

med_trailer_chapelSome of the Evangelical churches are using full-sized semi trailers like this one:

evang-truck-chapelThis is a Russian Orthodox mobile chapel:

orthodox-chapelHere’s one from the World War I era, featuring the Belgian Army:

belgian-armyThere is no end to human ingenuity and inventiveness, and this is something I admire about those who are able to think “out of the box” – quite the opposite of bureaucracy. When we begin to find solutions to needs, then we will be looking at the true renewal of the Church.

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