Advent a fitting time for rededication of St. Mary of Lourdes, Germantown Hills
GERMANTOWN HILLS — The Second Sunday of Advent, with its focus on preparation for the coming of Christ, proved a fitting time for a Mass of Rededication at St. Mary of Lourdes Church here.
“It is so wonderful to have a place like this to come home to,” said Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka, principal celebrant of the Dec. 5 Mass. “A place where we know that — when we come in ready in our minds and hearts to encounter the Lord — we will see him and he will be present to us.”
Bishop Tylka presided over rituals rededicating the 165-year-old brick church following recent improvements including a major addition at the entrance as well as interior redecorations. Concelebrants included Msgr. Philip Halfacre, vicar general; Father Vien Van Do, administrator, who played a major role in moving the project forward; and Father Gregory Jozefiak, in residence.
Father Van Do expressed gratitude to all involved in the church improvement project — from the builders and artists to various parish committees and diocesan leadership, including Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who approved the plans.
“Your coming here brings us joy and hope in this season of hope,” Father Van Do told Bishop Tylka, assuring the bishops of the parishioners’ love and gratitude.
Built in 1855 in a rural area west of Metamora and just north of what is now Germantown Hills, St. Mary of Lourdes Church had few modern conveniences such as running water or bathrooms for at least five generations. (Click here for a parish history.) Until the addition was completed in the fall of 2020, there was no confessional.
In addition to restrooms and a new confessional, the addition provides a new entrance to the church and includes a multipurpose room, a gathering space, and a covered-drive-through/drop-off area. A basement space was created to provide an area of refuge for worshipers in the event of severe storms.
A sacrarium was added to the existing sacristy, the stairs to the church balcony were redesigned for ease and safety, various maintenance issues were addressed, and the nave of the church was repainted.
The predominant paint color is called, fittingly enough, “Amazing Gray.”
New stained glass windows were created for the cry room and confessional, backlighting was added to the rose window in the choir loft, and a long-forgotten stained glass window that had been bricked over at the original entrance was discovered, restored and is now a focal point as parishioners enter the church from the new gathering space.
PREPARING A BUILDING, AND OURSELVES
The Mass opened with Father Van Do symbolically handing over the keys, legal documents, and renovation plans to Bishop Tylka. Rededication rituals included the anointing of the altar and walls of the church with sacred Chrism — a mixture of oil and balsam also used to anoint the hands of priests and the heads of bishops — the incensing of the altar and eventually the entire church, and the lighting of candles on the altar and throughout the sanctuary. Cantor Deanna Casey led the assembly in the Litany of the Saints, calling on their prayers to join those of the assembly.
Phillip Lee and Ben Wilson, who served as masters of ceremonies, wiped the Chrism from the altar surface and covered the altar with a linen cloth for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
In his homily, Bishop Tylka recalled a recent Thanksgiving visit with his family where discussion involved a niece’s preparation for the birth of a child and a cousin who is preparing to meet the Lord following a battle with a rare form of cancer.
“I was struck by those conversations on the same day,” said Bishop Tylka. Recalling the message of John the Baptist in the Gospel to prepare the way of the Lord, Bishop Tylka noted that “we must be a people who are prepared for an encounter with the One who is to save us.”
He spoke of the many preparations necessary to build or renovate a church such as St. Mary of Lourdes, known widely for the large outdoor grotto and Stations of the Cross on the parish grounds.
“We prepare a building, but more so we prepare ourselves for an encounter with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” he said. In the church building, “we see Jesus alive in our community and one another, hear Jesus alive in the Scripture proclaimed to us, and most importantly see Jesus alive in the git of His very Body and Blood offered on the cross for our salvation.”
The Mass was followed by a lunch reception in the parish hall.
EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Mass of Rededication have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.