He is also a consultant for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship and has advised on numerous liturgical design projects throughout the United States.
McNamara's interest in Catholic architecture began in college when he converted to Catholicism and was struck by the beauty of the churches he visited.
He pursued a degree in architecture and went on to study liturgical theology, which he believes is essential to understanding the design of Catholic churches.
According to McNamara, Catholic church architecture is not just about aesthetics but is deeply connected to theology and liturgy. He believes that a church building should be a visible representation of the Catholic faith and its teachings.
In his book "Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy," McNamara writes that "the church building is a manifestation of the faith, an embodiment of the Church herself, and a proclamation of the Gospel."
McNamara's approach to church design emphasizes the importance of beauty and tradition. He believes that a Catholic church should be designed to elevate the soul and inspire awe in the faithful.
McNamara draws inspiration from the long tradition of Catholic art and architecture, which he believes provides a rich source of design elements and motifs that can be incorporated into contemporary church design.
One example of McNamara's work is the renovation of the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco. The cathedral had undergone several renovations in the past, which had stripped it of much of its original beauty and character. McNamara's renovation sought to restore the cathedral's sense of sacredness and dignity while incorporating modern design elements that would enhance the liturgical experience.
The renovation involved a number of changes to the cathedral's interior. The altar was moved forward to bring it closer to the congregation, and a new cathedra (bishop's chair) was installed.
The sanctuary was redesigned to create a more intimate space for the celebration of the Eucharist, and a new baptismal font was added. The overall effect of the renovation was to create a space that is both beautiful and functional, where the liturgy can be celebrated with reverence and dignity.
McNamara's work has not been without controversy, however. Some critics have accused him of promoting a "nostalgic" or "conservative" approach to church design that is out of touch with contemporary culture.
McNamara has responded to these criticisms by arguing that his approach is not about recreating the past but about drawing on the timeless principles of Catholic theology and liturgy to create buildings that are both beautiful and relevant to contemporary society.
In McNamara's view, the Church's architectural heritage is a living tradition that can and should be updated and adapted to meet the needs of the present day. He believes that the challenge facing the Church today is to find ways to incorporate traditional design elements into modern buildings that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Denis McNamara is an architect who has made a significant impact on the Catholic Church's architectural heritage. His approach to church design emphasizes the importance of beauty, tradition, and liturgical theology.
McNamara believes that a Catholic church building should be a visible representation of the Catholic faith and its teachings, and that it should elevate the soul and inspire awe in the faithful.