Rededication Mass Dec. 6 for Blessed Sacrament Church, Morton

MORTON — Welcome home, Blessed Sacrament Parish.

After nearly a year of celebrating Masses in their parish hall, members here are ready to return — and invite others — to their beautifully remodeled and expanded church.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will be principal celebrant of an 11:30 a.m. Mass of Rededication on Sunday, Dec. 6. A reception and an open house will follow the Mass from 2 to 4 p.m. at the church, 225 E. Greenwood St.
As finalizing work on the $2 million project continued this week, parishioners taking an early look are already “surprised, happy, and impressed,” said Father Mark DeSutter, pastor.

“And it’s not done yet,” he said as workers prepared to hang a new eight-foot crucifix behind the altar.

WHAT EVERYONE will see next Sunday is a masterful blend of familiar and new.

“When you walk in you would never know it hasn’t always been the way it is now,” said Father DeSutter, praising architect Adam Lontai for maintaining the spirit of the 50-year-old church’s circular architecture. “That’s not always the case with these kinds of projects.”

But parishioners will appreciate the changes every direction they look, including:

— an expansion at the entrance, increasing seating capacity from 480 to 600, with space for 200 more in temporary seating if required.

— a new, acoustically balanced ceiling featuring “stunning” lighting provided by about two dozen pendant lamps.

— colorful stained-glass windows on the theme of the Blessed Sacrament designed by The Studios of Potente, including a “signature window” that will be backlit for night visibility outside the church.

— an enlarged, raised sanctuary area as well as a new platform for the choir.

— a new devotional chapel featuring a just-arrived carving of the Holy Family, as well as two new reconciliation rooms and a bride’s room.

THE PROJECT gave new life and a new look to existing treasures and furnishings. For example, the pews were stripped and refinished a darker color, and the existing tabernacle was moved to a central location behind the altar. The gray marble of the altar became an accent repeated throughout the worship space — including in new backgrounds for the Stations of the Cross.

There is also plenty that’s new, including a granite baptistry with flowing water at the church entrance and a gathering space between the church and parish center. A new audio system has been installed, and the church now has video presentation capabilities as well.

On the exterior, a protective canopy now covers the walkway from the main entrance to the front drive. Otherwise, the new brickwork necessary to complete the expansion so closely matches the nearly 50-year-old bricks that it is almost impossible to distinguish.

The 1,200-family parish is ready for its long-anticipated homecoming after nearly a year of celebrating Mass in the parish center. It was a worthy temporary alternative, however — the parish center itself was completed just four years ago. But preparing it for weekend Masses included regular set-up and tear-down by various parish groups. Weddings took place in neighboring parishes.

All that ends next Sunday, and the public is invited to come and see.

“People have really embraced the project and feel proud of their worship space,” said Father DeSutter, noting that the generosity shown in a capital campaign in the spring of 2008 has continued. Parishioners were quick to donate funds as memorials to help pay for many of the new items, and “as they’ve seen how good it’s going to be and how well it’s being done, they’ve been more and more generous.”

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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