Gallery of Images

Sanctuary for Sacred Arts

September 24, 2008

View the Image Slideshow for Sanctuary for Sacred Arts (Opens a new window).

See the slideshow for a sampling of images from the slide collection of the Sanctuary for Sacred Arts, Fr. Domin and Mr. Dave Richen, the entirety of which will be in the EnVisionChurch Gallery of Images in the near future.

Sanctuary for Sacred Arts (SSA) is a non-profit organization directed by a board of professional artists, an architect, theologians, clergy, and business people to serve theology and the arts. Fr. John Domin, co-founder of SSA, has created and has been involved in the teaching and preservation of sacred art for over 50 years and has established SSA as an organization to be a resource for religious leaders, builders and renovators of churches, and seminary students in the Pacific Northwest.  SSA promotes, preserves and exhibits sacred art.  SSA is ecumenical, affiliating with a multiplicity of church, community, and religious organizations.

The Liturgical Arts Resource Center (LARC), founded at Marylhurst University in the 1980s by Fr. Domin and Mr. J. David Richen, where Ms. Paula Hamilton worked as the library director and was also a member of LARC, was the predecessor of SSA.  Although Fr. Domin and Mr. Richen were no longer associated with LARC in the 1990s, it continued to operate at Marylhurst and later in a gallery in Northwest Portland, holding workshops and hosting art exhibits until 2000.

Ms. Hamilton, Director of SSA, is a librarian of 30 years. She has an undergraduate degree in art history, and Masters degrees in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Theology from Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon.  Her first library job was at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, followed by a position at Chicago Public Library.  Since then, she has worked in academic libraries in Ghana, West Africa, Florida, and several libraries in Oregon, including Marylhurst University and Mount Angel Abbey.  Paula is the first director of SSA.

The mission statement for SSA is “to foster and encourage the promotion, use, development, study, and preservation of sacred arts.”  Since its
inception in 2004, SSA has collected and preserved sacred art, exhibited art in churches and universities, presented papers at conferences, and saved slides of sacred art and architecture.

During the 1950s and 1960s, liturgical architects and artists in Europe were creating beautiful new designs for churches that had been shelled during World War II.  Some of the churches were totally destroyed, while others were reduced to shells during the raids.  Talented European architects, such as Rudolph Schwartz, Hans Schaadel, Dominicus Bohm, Fritz Meltzer, Karl Mazer, and Le Corbusier realized the opportunity and came forward to create modern masterpieces in the service of the Lord.  Auguste Perret, architect of the Church of Notre Dame in Le Raincy, France said, “It is through the splendor of truth that a building attains beauty.”  Artists, some of whom had already achieved fame, collaborated with the architects to design sacred art for the new structures.  Fernand Leger developed the colorful mosaic that covers the entire triangular entrance façade, based on the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, which graces the Notre Dame de Toute Grace in Assy, France.  Georges Rouault, an important interpreter of religious themes, presented three stained glass windows, including the "Seated Christ" to the same church without charge.  Matisse was instrumental in designing the chapel for the Nuns in Vence.  He also painted the walls, both exterior and interior, and designed the beautiful green, blue, and yellow windows that reflect on the marble floors of the Chapel of the Rosary. Jean Lambert-Rucki developed distinctive Stations of the Cross for Notre Dame de la Trinite in Blois, France; one of his children later designed the Stations for the Cross at St Mary Catholic Church in Corvallis, Oregon many years later.   

Fr. Domin was captivated by the beauty of these European churches and traveled to see and photograph them.  He incorporated many of the ideas of the European churches in Oregon churches he helped design during the 30 years he was Chairman of the Sacred Art Commission of the Archdiocese of Portland.  Ms. Hamilton is currently organizing, identifying, and preparing the European church slides for EnVisionChurch.

In 2005, Paula was awarded an American Theological Library Association (ATLA) Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative (CDRI) grant funded by the Luce Foundation, to add SSA images to the ATLA web-searchable, central repository of digital resources.  Paula digitized a collection of slides showing the architectural and artist changes in churches in Western Oregon in the aftermath of Vatican II.  The slides are from the collections of Fr. Domin and Mr. Richen. That project, containing 325 images, will be accessible on the EnVisionChurch website.

Finally, SSA has preserved and is making available a collection of 400 homilies and meditations by Fr. Domin that were delivered during his 57 years as a priest for the Oregon Archdiocese. A sufferer of severe chronic depression, Father Domin believes his pain and depression have enabled him to understand the suffering of others and to write homilies which speak to one’s heart. Paula has digitized the homilies that will be made available for retreats and community gatherings and for the sick and elderly in assisted living institutions.


Fr. John Domin has served the Portland Archdiocese as a priest for 57 years, as a pastor of several parishes, a high school art teacher, and a lecturer at Mount Angel Seminary.  His education in the arts began with the study of creative design at San Domiano Studio in Chicago in 1948.  He worked with Lloyd Reynolds, Oregon Calligrapher Laureate, at the Portland Art Museum during the 1950s and 60s, while teaching creativity classes at Central Catholic High School. During those 12 years, he also studied during summers at the University of Washington Art Department and with Corita Kent in Los Angeles.  Extensive travel abroad focused on sacred art and architecture.

Fr. Domin was Chairman of the Sacred Art Commission of the Archdiocese of Portland for thirty years from 1958 until 1988.  During this time he engaged in the design process and renovating of over one hundred churches and chapels. Several won national recognition awards including St. Joseph Church in Roseburg and St. Alice Church in Springfield, both in Oregon.  He was pastor of St. Monica Church in Coos Bay and founding pastor of Church of the Resurrection in West Linn.  He has served as chaplain of Maryville Nursing Home, which provides compassionate, extended care for the elderly, including many already living in various stages of Alzheimer’s disease at Shalom Center.  He lives in his Maryville home/studio.

While Chairman of the Sacred Art Commission of the Archdiocese of Portland, Fr. Domin read about the modern churches and beautiful liturgical art being designed in Europe and Mexico.  The bombing during World War II had severely damaged or completely destroyed churches throughout Europe, and inspired young architects were stepping in to fill the spaces with inventive, contemporary buildings.  Fr. Domin traveled to several countries in the 1960s and 1970s, photographing liturgical art and architecture.  He was astonished by the creativity, majesty, and splendor he discovered in the new churches.  He found that the architects and artists had incorporated the spirit of the Second Vatican Council even prior to 1963! 

Fr. Domin returned to Oregon full of ideas he wanted to employ in the many churches he was asked to renovate and build.  He worked with architects and hired ingenious liturgical artists who worked in a variety of media to enhance churches with stunning sacred art.  He created banners, sculpture, and calligraphy of his own for St. Monica’s and other churches.  Many of the nearly 100 churches in Oregon that Fr. John helped design and fill with beautiful art are visible on the EnVisionChurch and Sanctuary of Sacred Arts web sites.

The European churches which were the inspiration for the churches in Oregon will also be available on both web sites.  Churches in Germany, Switzerland, France, and Mexico are among those in the gallery of images of sacred and liturgical art.

Included here are pictures of Fr. John from the back of his greeting cards, and in his studio, as well as pictures of the art collections in his studio. He continues to create art and exhibit work at galleries, churches and universities throughout Oregon.


Sanctuary for Sacred Arts (SSA) is lead by a Board of Directors composed of artists, business people, an attorney, and an architect.  J. David Richen, architect and president of the board, has led SSA since its inception in 2004.  He has been an inspiration to the SSA Director, Paula Hamilton, as well as to the board, in establishing policies and procedures, developing programs and exhibits, and networking with church leaders, artists and university officials.

Mr. Richen has worked more than 40 years in the fields of architecture, planning, and building construction.  Since 1983 he has devoted his professional career to the service of the church and religious communities.  In doing so, he has integrated his love of the church with his profession.  He has discovered that working with religious communities is his most meaningful work, and after more than 25 years in this ministry, Mr. Richen still has a deep conviction that this is God's will for him.

Mr. Richen has a Master of City Planning from the University of California at Berkeley and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oregon.  He has a wide variety of experiences both as an architect and as a planner.  He started his career working for architectural groups in San Francisco and later moved to Oregon working over the years in several Portland firms as a site analyst and project planner.  He has worked for the Portland City Planning Commission, founded the SRG partnership and the Cornerstone Construction Company.  He has also taught at Portland State University and Mount Angel Seminary. 

In 1983 he began his own firm as a Consultant to Religious Communities. Mr. Richen has produced master plans as well as church remodeling or new construction for over 50 parishes, including St. Mary's in Mt. Angel, Oregon and Holy Trinity in Beaverton, Oregon.  He has also completed numerous remodeling and new construction projects for religious communities, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey, Queen of Angels Monastery, and the Carmelite House of Studies, all in Oregon  He has received many awards for design, service and education.

Mr. Richen has had a long association with Guadalupe Abbey in Lafayette, Oregon.  One of his current projects is the design and construction of a new church, and the remodeling of the balance of the monastery at Our Lady of with the Trappist monks. Pictures of Holy Trinity, St. Mary's, the Trappist Abbey Meditation Chapel, along with other award winning churches and retreat centers he designed are available on the EnVisionChurch and SSA websites.

Included here are pictures of Mr. Richen at the Trappist Abbey, where he travels weekly from his office in Portland to monitor the progress of his work at the monastery.  With the completion of the new church and the renovation of the Abbey library, he will have designed or remodeled most of the buildings at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Monastery in Lafayette, Oregon.

[Return to top]