The following comes from a Southern Cross article by Denis Grasska:
SAN DIEGO — The Diocese of San Diego’s newest church received top honors at an annual awards ceremony recognizing the best and worst in local architecture.
St. Thomas More Parish, located in Oceanside, received the coveted Grand Orchid at the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s annual Orchids & Onions awards. The awards ceremony was held Oct. 13 at Spreckels Theatre, following a reception at Horton Plaza Park.
The decision to award the Grand Orchid to St. Thomas More Church was unanimous. In comments read at the awards ceremony, the church was described as “truly exceptional” and as “beautiful, refined and elegant.” The architectural style of the new 23,000-square-foot church, which was blessed and dedicated on Dec. 16, was praised by one juror as an example of “warm Modernism.”
Father Ratajczak told The Southern Cross that the new church is “modern, but it’s also classic in many regards,” and he predicts that “it’s going to age gracefully, it’ll get better as it ages.”
While delivering his acceptance speech at the awards ceremony, Father Ratajczak was joined onstage by Bishop Robert W. McElroy and representatives of several groups that had a role in the design and construction of the new church, including Renzo Zecchetto Architects, T.B. Penick & Sons Contractors, Rozak Construction and the St. Thomas More Interior Design Team.
Father Ratajczak reflected on the theology behind various aspects of the church’s design.
“There are three main elements in our church: wood, creating a warmth for when we are spiritually cold; glass, bringing in the light of the day, a transparency to take away the temptation for people and institutions of being dishonest and hiding the truth when caught in weakness and sin; and thirdly, unfinished concrete, a reminder that all of us human beings are works in progress, and our life’s journey is about growing in holiness, and presenting, one day, to our God, a being who struggled to be the best that she or he could become.”
Philip Goscienski, who was among those who stood onstage alongside Father Ratajczak, served as co-chair of the St. Thomas More Interior Design Team with his wife, Pat. The team held regular meetings for almost nine years.
Goscienski, who along with his wife has been a parishioner since the parish was established, remembers the large churches he attended in his youth, as well as the European cathedrals he has visited since then. They were “remarkable works of art,” he said, but “none of them conveys the warmth” that the new St. Thomas More Church does.