New Immaculate Conception Church and Hall in Manito blessed

Photo Caption: Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, blesses the altar at the new Immaculate Conception Church in Manito during the Mass with the rites of dedication on Sept. 27.

By: By Jennifer Willems

MANITO — Looking around the sanctuary of the new Immaculate Conception Church last Sunday, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, said, “I am so in awe of what this parish has achieved.”

“There is a lot of sweat equity in this glorious church,” he told those who filled the pews, the gathering space and the parish hall for the Mass, which included a blessing and dedication of the new worship space. “I know you had contractors and they brought their skill. I also know some of you are feeling muscles you forgot you had!”

Before he blessed and anointed the new altar — designed by Theresa Sondag and made by Deacon Bob Sondag in their shop, Signature Wood — and church, the bishop reminded parishioners and guests why it had been built.

“You really are the living stone of God’s temple. You are members of his body; Christ is the head, we are the members,” Bishop Jenky told them. “This church is designed to help you be what Christ calls you to be — his disciples. All have the great commission to go out to the whole world and win it for Christ and his Gospel.”

Father Whiteside, pastor, called it “a dream come true.”

“This new church and hall are a true miracle, a tribute to what a small, rural parish community can accomplish with a lot of sweat, blood and tears, and of course, with the help of almighty God,” he said. “So first we want to thank our Lord and his amazing grace in all of the ways he has provided for this building project.”

He also thanked Bishop Jenky, saying, “You have been very supportive of our project from the very beginning.”

Among the gifts presented to Bishop Jenky were a rosary made with clay beads culled from the ground and materials of the old church by Ruth Sondag, and a spiritual bouquet of the prayers offered for him during the two-year building process. Parishioners laughed and applauded when he received a loaf of the povitica bread and pizzas sold as fundraisers.

Father Whiteside expressed gratitude to them for their “hard, hard work,” including the construction management team led by Deacon Sondag, the design team, the landscaping team and the fundraising team.

He also offered words of thanks for the hospitality of Pastor Gerry Weaver and the members of Trinity Lutheran Church, who made their church available to Immaculate Conception parishioners for Mass while the new church was being built.

Before the liturgy ended and everyone went into the new parish hall for light refreshments, Father Whiteside led them in consecrating to Mary “our souls and our bodies, all that we do and all that we have, without exception.”

Parishioners and guests were invited to return that evening for a time of silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

The new church and hall replace a multipurpose structure built in 1972. The altar had been tucked into one corner and the furnace room doubled as a confessional. The priests would process to the altar from the kitchen.

By 1978, parish officials had contacted Bishop Edward O’Rourke to say it was already inadequate for their needs. It was torn down on April 5, 2014, to make way for the new church at 505 S. Adams St.

Some longtime parishioners said they cried when they saw the interior for the first time.

“To think, our little itty bitty tiny community can do this. It’s unreal,” said Mary Thomason. “This is a church you would see in New York, Chicago. It’s overwhelming.”

MORE TO COME

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