PHILADELPHIA -Pope Francis visits a Philadelphia prison Sept. 26, where inmates working in the woodshop at Philacor, a prison industry, have produced a walnut chair as a gift.
"There's nothing better than a personal gift that you make yourself," Louis Giorla, commissioner of the Philadelphia Prison System, told Newsday. In addition to furniture manufacturing, other vocational programs include engraving, printing, dry cleaning, horticulture and a dog-training program. Products made by inmates are sold only to other government agencies, he said. 
 
Founded in 1933, PhilaCor says it is now one of the largest grossing jail industry programs in the nation. PhilaCor's Furniture Plant produces a full line of case goods: such as desks, credenzas, bookcases, computer units, etc., as well as ergonomic seating, lobby seating and related items.
 
The Pope's visit to Washington earlier in the week brought a team of area woodworking craftsmen at Carriage Hill Cabinet & Millwork Co. to produce a 14-piece liturgical furnishings contract. St. Joseph's Carpentry of Poolesville, MD won the contract to produce an altar, chairs, and lectern from a winning design by Catholic University's School of Architecture & Planning.   
 
David Cahoon, owner of St. Joseph's Carpentry, teamed with Carriage Hill Cabinet & Millwork to execute the project - which calls for an altar with 4x8-foot marble slab top, a lectern, side chairs and a Pontifical seat - a large chair which incorporates the Papal Seal routed into the back. 
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Doug Fauth, owner of Carriage Hill Cabinet & Millwork, Frederick, MD 
 
The furnishings were used in an outdoor mass Sept 23 on the east steps of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, adjacent to the Catholic University Mall. The altar, ambo, or lectern, and chair were designed as part of a competition at Catholic University’s School of Architecture and Planning sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington and the Basilica. Winners were announced in June. 
 
Catholic University School of Architecture
 
The first-place design features arches that mimic the architecture of the Romanesque-Byzantine style Basilica. The chair designed for the Pope features a simple high arch “designed to bring focus not on itself, but on the Vicar of Christ himself who will preach from it,” the team stated in their concept. Members of the winning design team include architecture students Ariadne Cerritelli (Bethesda, Md.), Matthew Hoffman (Pittsburgh), and Joseph Taylor (Eldersburg, Md.).
 
“I am always impressed and amazed at the variety of designs that can be presented from a limited program of requirements,” said Bishop Knestout. “The liturgical furnishings are simple and small in number — an altar, ambo, and presidential chair — yet these simple elements find expression in a variety of form. The different styles ranged from classical to modern, each reflecting the unique gifts of the teams that had designed them.”
 
This is the second time CUA students have designed furnishings for a papal visit to Washington, D.C. In 2008, architecture students designed the furnishings used at the Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at Nationals Park and the chair he used.
 
Designs needed to be based on the assumption that the furnishings would find continued use as permanent fixtures inside the Basilica. Eighteen teams of at least two students each competed. They each had to build a scale model of at least one of the furnishings and make presentations of their designs to the jury in May. The winning team received $6,000. 
 
 
 
 

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