Parish grateful as new St. Jude Church, Peoria, to be dedicated on Nov. 29
That this Wednesday evening’s Dedication Mass for the new St. Jude Church in Peoria falls between Thanksgiving and the first Sunday of Advent is wonderfully fitting, according to Father Patrick Henehan, pastor.
“We’re extending Thanksgiving,” he told The Catholic Post last week as dozens of workers applied finishing touches inside and outside the spacious $11.4 million edifice. St. Jude is the first new church built for a parish in the Diocese of Peoria since Immaculate Conception Church in Manito was dedicated in 2015.
Bishop Louis Tylka will be principal celebrant for the 6:30 p.m. Mass on Nov. 29 and preside at rites dedicating the new church and altar. Father Henehan and nearly two dozen priests will concelebrate. Limited open seating will be available, and a reception will follow the Mass.
“We’re grateful first and foremost for what God has done,” said Father Henehan, seated in one of the new church’s 28 rows of pews, giving it a seating capacity of 672. “And we’re grateful for what the people have generously sacrificed for so that we can bring Christ anew and inspire more saints, more witnesses, to lead more people to Christ.”
NEW CHURCH, NEW CHURCH YEAR
The opening celebrations continue with Solemn Vespers (evening prayer) with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, from 5 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1. An open house with guided tours will follow from 6 to 9 p.m.
Most of the parish’s 1,300 households will get their first look inside the new church during weekend Masses Dec. 2-3 marking the first Sunday of Advent.
“That’s the beginning of the new church year and we begin with a new church,” said Father Henehan. “I’m hoping I can keep it together saying Mass in this new building.”
The brick, Romanesque church was built on the site of the former St. Jude Church at 10811 N. Knoxville Ave. in Peoria. The former church, dedicated in 1975, had become too small for the growing parish. It was razed last summer and ground was blessed for the new church in early fall.
During the year of construction, Masses were celebrated at the parish’s Hettinger Hall.
A few of the many notable aspects of the new St. Jude Church include:
- An octagonal rotunda with a baptistery through which parishioners will enter and exit the church.
- A dramatic, original mural of Pentecost on the sanctuary’s back wall, measuring 21 feet tall-by-36 feet wide, painted off-site on five canvas panels by artist Andrew Hattermann and then assembled and blended into one image within the church. Father Henehan notes the scene includes saints from throughout the centuries looking on because “Pentecost continues.”
- The marble altar, weighing 5,000 pounds. It features a mosaic of the Lamb (Victory of Christ) from the Book of Revelation crafted by Rugo Stone of Virginia.
- Scripture passages that dominate the upper reaches of the sanctuary in letters more than a foot tall, including three “I am” quotes of Jesus from the Gospel of John — “I am the bread of life,” “I am the way the truth and the life,” and “I am the true vine.” Extending across a beam at the front of the sanctuary is another quote from Jesus in John’s Gospel: “Remain in me and you will bear much fruit.”
A statue of St. Jude from the old church will be present in the new church, but statues of Mary, Joseph, and St. Thérèse of Lisieux are new — and larger.
“Everything in here needs to be a little bit bigger for perspective,” said Father Henehan, noting the church’s 38-feet high ceiling. A monstrance that will be used for adoration, for example, is 3-feet tall.
The walls reflect a color palette of gray, gold, and blue. The windows feature grills for now. Stained glass will be added as funds allow.
“When we started designing the church, the word we kept coming back to was ‘timeless,’” said Father Henehan, saying it was built with at least a century in mind. “What will be beautiful five years from now? What will be beautiful 100 years from now . . . hopefully inspiring the next generation, and for many generations.”
The architect for the new St. Jude Church was James McCrery of Washington, D.C. The general contractor was P.J. Hoerr, Inc., of Peoria with two parishioners from that company — Mike Kreutz and Troy Wertz — serving as project manager and site supervisor.
“This is personal for them,” said Father Henehan, as it was for many involved in the project. He expressed deep gratitude for all support, including members of the building committee, headed by Ron Colgan, and the campaign committee, chaired by Karen Flaherty.
He also thanked Bishop Tylka as well as brother priests including Father Andru O’Brien, parochial vicar when the project began; Father Daniel McShane, current parochial vicar; Msgr. Philip Halfacre, vicar general; and Father Paul Carlson for sharing his “artistic and architectural understanding.”
“It was really a team effort,” said Father Henehan.
“One thing that was so inspiring to me was the number of tradesmen who have been so honored and happy to be a part of this,” continued the pastor. “A number of the Catholic tradesmen told me they can’t wait to bring their families here to Mass. They want to show their families what they have been a part of.”
Members of the parish have shared similar excitement. The parish produced a series of videos to keep parishioners updated on the church’s progress.
“Our approach was, if we’re going to do this, let’s do it the best we can to give glory and honor to God,” said Father Henehan.
In addition to the church building, the project also included construction of a connecting colonnade with glass walls and a grassy, landscaped courtyard for gatherings.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Dec. 10 edition of The Catholic Post will feature photos and coverage of the Dedication Mass.