All things come to an end, and more often than not, that end is itself a beginning. Our summer’s adventures in remodeling have finally come to a complete and total end. Well, almost — there are still pictures to hang on the walls, but we’re 99.97% finished now. And so as we prepared our yearbook, we finally took the time to unclutter the kitchen and take some “After” shots to complete our “Before” shots.
Our parish is in a similar situation: a two-year building project came to completion tonight with the dedication of our new Our Lady of the Rosary church. Like with our kitchen, there are still a few things the Father Dwight said we need to do, like completing an enclosure around the whole campus to ensure safety for the parish school — can never be too careful these days.
Father Dwight warned, so to speak, the parish that the liturgy for the dedication of a new church is long. “Really long,” he stressed. We dropped the Boy off at Nana’s and Papa’s as a result, because we really didn’t know what “really long” might mean. K comes from a country where most churches’ age is measured in centuries, and so the idea of attending a Mass to dedicate a new church was completely new to her. But Father did say “really long,” so we decided not to take a chance — the Boy can handle only so much sitting still.
“Really long” turned out to be just shy of three hours. Having grown up in a church were every week’s service was at least two hours long, I would say two hours and forty-five minutes make a long service, but not a really long service.
The liturgy was lovely, and it’s fitting that Fr. Dwight be the pastor of the parish: it’s a uniquely Catholic-looking structure, and Fr. Dwight is a uniquely un-common Catholic priest. Raised a Protestant, he converted to Anglicanism and moved to England where he married, started a family, and had a lovely parish. Then trouble struck, so to speak, and he and his family converted to Catholicism, which meant the loss of his vocation. Or so it would seem. It turns out, several dozen married Anglican priests have converted to Catholicism and then been re-ordained as Catholic priests with the discipline of celibacy being waived for them. So he posed with the bishop and his wife and four children after Mass, making it an odd sight in an oddly traditional church.
The real stars of the evening, though, were the members of the choir, including L. She’s been singing in the children’s choir for several months now, and she spent more time in the church today than she’d spent in a month of Masses — over five hours.
The results, though, were stunning. A Catholic church that looked, smelled, and sounded like a Catholic church.
During the entire liturgy, I smiled occasionally as I thought, “This is not just some lovely church we’re visiting while passing through here or there. This is where we will go to Mass every Sunday now.”