‘Table of joy’ consecrated at Sts. Peter and Paul, Leonore

Photo Caption: Bishop Jenky pours sacred Chrism on the altar of sacrifice during the consecration ritual at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Leonore on Oct. 11.

By: By Jennifer Willems, The Catholic Post

LEONORE — As members of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish here and Annunciation BVM Parish in Eagle Township continue to draw together as one community of faith, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, consecrated the “table of joy” that serves as the source of their unity.

“Dear friends, most Catholics go their entire lives without seeing altars consecrated,” he told them during his first pastoral visit to Sts. Peter and Paul Church on Oct. 11. “It’s a great blessing for me to be with you at this moment in the journey of faith of this parish.”

The new altar of sacrifice and high altar for the Leonore church were commissioned by Father Charles McCarthy, CSSp, the previous pastor, and made by woodworker Tom Weiss, who is also a parishioner of Sts. Peter and Paul. (See related story.) Weiss also refurbished the ambo, an antique purchased by Father McCarthy for the church.

While the furnishings were completed in 2010, there was not an opportunity to have them consecrated before Father McCarthy was granted senior priest status in 2013. The current pastor, Father Gary Blake, saw this as a good time to welcome Bishop Jenky and to highlight the role the altar plays.

“Outside of the Eucharist, the altar is the central focus,” he told The Catholic Post. “The altar represents Christ and to have that beauty is important — important for the church building itself, but also important for the liturgy.”

As he blessed the water that would be used to bless the altars and the people from Sts. Peter and Paul, Annunciation BVM and Holy Family in Oglesby, where Father Blake is also pastor, Bishop Jenky prayed that all would “receive God’s word with faith, sharing the Lord’s table of joy, and raise up our hearts in hope. Gathered around this altar, we draw near to Christ, the living stone, in whom we become God’s holy temple.”

Before pouring sacred Chrism on the altar of sacrifice and rubbing it into the wood, he spoke of it again as a “table of joy” where the people could cast their burdens on God and “take up their journey restored.”

Bishop Jenky prayed that God would make it “a place of communion and peace, so that those who share the body and blood of your Son may be filled with his spirit and grow in your life of love” and “a source of unity and friendship.” He also prayed that it would be “the center of our praise and thanksgiving until we arrive at the eternal tabernacle.”

After anointing both altars, Bishop Jenky spooned incense over burning coals in a large dish, which was placed on the altar of sacrifice. “As this church is filled with fragrance, so may your holy church fill the world with the fragrance of Christ,” he prayed.

The altars were wiped by Martha Mareta, a parish trustee and president of the St. Anne Society, and Marlene Knecht, sacristan. They dressed the altars with crisp white cloths before the candles were lit and Mass proceeded with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

In his homily, Bishop Jenky urged his listeners to come to the altar often — and bring with them their families, neighbors and friends, as well as those who have fallen away from the practice of their faith or don’t know the Lord.

“Let us, as this parish community renews its life around the altar, renews its faith in the most holy Eucharist, renews the Christian journey that is our salvation, let us renew what we believe — that we should never hesitate to accept God’s great gift of mercy, God’s endless gift of love — and keep our eyes focused on the banquet of heaven, which lasts for ever and ever,” he said.

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