The St. Killian Catholic Church in Mission Viejo follows the guidance provided in the Vatican II encyclical, which calls for the sanctuary to be located in the center of the congregation so that it becomes the main focus of the worship service. Recent Catholic Church designs, following this teaching, have tended to arrange the seating in a semicircle with the altar located at its center. The choir must also face the altar so it is usually located to one side of the semicircle. This is the case with St. Killian and the design solution was carried out quite successfully. In these structures, the sanctuary extends out from the front wall of the nave, and the seating areas wrap around this central focal point. To provide adequate absorption to control the reverberation, padded pews are most important and were installed. Additional absorption was also built into the center axis of the ceiling.
The ceiling has its high point above the sanctuary and tapers down to a lower height around the rear walls. This allows for ceiling mounted loudspeakers to be positioned in concentric circles around the altar. It also allows a central line source cluster to be located above the altar. The result is a system that provides excellent clarity, while allowing for time delays based on the overhead loudspeaker’s distance from the center of the seating area. In this particular church, the high point of the ceiling is along the centerline extending from the sanctuary back to the entry foyer. This made it possible to locate ceiling mounted subwoofers along this line. The result is good coverage on the sides of seating areas as well as along the central axis.
In St. Killian there is also an electronic sampled organ. Its sounds are recorded from actual pipe organs, and are controlled electronically from the organ console. The result is an impressive and natural sounding organ at a cost that is more affordable than a true pipe organ.
The audio control room is located on the side of the nave with a clear line of sight to both the choir and the sanctuary. It also affords an unrestricted view of the rear of the church so that wedding and other processional services can be clearly observed. With the padded pews, the result is a structure with sound that is both intelligible for speech as well as reverberant enough for music. The architect on the project was TBP architects of Newport Beach. The audio installation was by Mood Media. The audio and video systems were designed by Marshall Long Acoustics.