‘Awesome . . . job well done’ — dedication of new St. Jude Church, Peoria, is celebrated

The interior of the new St. Jude Church in Peoria is seen as the procession makes its way through the packed assembly at the close of the Dedication Mass on Nov. 29. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

With two three-word phrases, Bishop Louis Tylka summed up the thoughts of many who packed the new St. Jude Church in Peoria for its Dedication Mass on Wednesday evening, Nov. 29.

“This is awesome,” said Bishop Tylka as he began his homily.

Moments later, as the bishop thanked and congratulated Father Patrick Henehan, pastor, and all who sacrificed time, talent, and treasure for the new church, came the second phrase.

“Job well done!”

During a pre-Mass ceremony outside the new St. Jude Church in Peoria, Bishop Tylka is presented with the keys to the church and the architect’s drawings by two parishioners from general contractor P.J. Hoerr, Inc. — Mike Kreutz, project executive, and Troy Wertz, senior project superintendent.  (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Bishop Tylka presided at ancient rites of blessing and dedication during the joy-filled, two-hour Mass that opened the church at 10811 N. Knoxville Ave. in Peoria and capped 14 months of construction. The spacious $11.4 million brick edifice is the fourth church to serve the growing parish and was built on the site of the former church, which was razed last summer.

“Take a moment and look around,” Bishop Tylka asked the assembly. “Look at what has been created. See how wonderful it is. Think of all that will happen here. From this night on, this church will be a place to encounter Christ Jesus.”

Pointing to an immense, original mural of Pentecost that adorns the back wall of the sanctuary, Bishop Tylka said the artwork by local artist Andrew Hattermann “should be a constant reminder to everyone who comes to this place of what it is about.”

“It’s all about Jesus,” said Bishop Tylka. “To see Jesus, to learn from Jesus, to be fed by Jesus, and then by His Spirit, to be sent out, so that the world can know Jesus as well.”

(The full text of Bishop Tylka’s homily is found here. An archived video of the Mass is found here. Further description of the church is found here.)

At the close of Mass, Father Henehan added his words of gratitude to all involved “for what you have done — sacrificing, standing up and showing a living sermon of what we believe, what we will die for, and what we can live for — our greatest gift, the gift of our faith.” He said the sacrificing was for one reason.

“For God’s glory,” said Father Henehan. “To give him the praise. To lead souls to Christ. It’s why we exist. It’s why this church exists.”

Bishop Tylka pours sacred Chrism on the new altar at St. Jude Church in Peoria. He then spread the Chrism across the altar’s surface with his hands during the Dedication Mass for the new church. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Prior to the opening procession, Bishop Tylka, the more than 20 priest concelebrants, and dozens of parish and construction representatives gathered outside at the church’s cornerstone for a brief ceremony. Parishioners Mike Kreutz, project executive, and Troy Wertz, senior project superintendent — both representing P.J. Hoerr, Inc. of Peoria, the general contractor — presented Bishop Tylka with the architectural drawings for the church as well as the keys to the building.

Bishop Tylka immediately handed the keys to Father Henehan, noting with a smile that it is the pastor who has responsibility for the church and parish.

As an orchestra and choir directed by Andrew Earnest led the assembly in the refrain “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord,” the procession — including 14 altar servers and the concelebrants, followed by Bishop Tylka — made its way to the sanctuary.

Father Patrick Henehan, pastor, uses incense to bless the church and the assembly during the Dedication Mass for the new St. Jude Church in Peoria on Nov. 29. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Bishop Tylka then walked through the church sprinkling holy water to purify the altar and the church walls, and on the assembly as a remembrance of baptism.

The rites of dedication followed the homily and included the Litany of the Saints, the placement of relics into the altar, the anointing of the altar and walls with sacred Chrism, the burning of incense on the altar — “Let our prayer rise, oh Lord, like incense in your sight,” prayed Bishop Tylka — the preparation of the altar with linens and candles, and the lighting of candles throughout the church.

The music that filled the church throughout the liturgy included an offertory antiphon “Domine Deus in Simplicitate II,” commissioned and composed for the dedication by Nicholas Rankin, and a Communion antiphon sung by several members of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.

At a reception in Hettinger Hall — which hosted parish Masses during the year of construction — parishioners reflected on the experience of seeing the new church for the first time and taking part in the Dedication Mass.

Paul Barker used the same descriptive word as Bishop Tylka to describe the new St. Jude Church.

“It’s awesome,” he told The Catholic Post. “I think the artwork (Pentecost mural) behind the altar is really gorgeous. I stared at it a lot.”

His wife Kathy remarked on the quality of the sound system and lighting. And one other human factor during the Mass.

The new St. Jude Church in Peoria is located at 10811 N. Knoxville Ave. (Provided photo/Daryl Wilson)

“Everybody was happy,” she said. “Every place you looked, they were smiling.”

One of those smiling was Michelle Howell, who cited the “magnificent” music, the “breathtaking” mural, and the large and lifelike new Stations of the Cross.

“I was glad to be a part of it — a beautiful evening,” she said of the Dedication Mass.

The “Opening Week” at St. Jude Church continues 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 and guided tours follow from 6 to 9 p.m. There will also be receptions after the first weekend Masses Dec. 2-3 marking the First Sunday of Advent.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Dedication Mass have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook. 

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