Denise Fedorow
Freelance Writer
August 29, 2018 // Bishop

New Blessed Sacrament Church dedicated in Albion

Denise Fedorow
Freelance Writer

Click here for more photos from the event.

The recently refinished wood was gleaming, the smell of new paint lingered, and the mood was one of celebration and anticipation as the faithful of Albion awaited the dedication of the new Blessed Sacrament Church by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades on Saturday evening, Aug. 25.

Katie Glick grew up in Blessed Sacrament Parish and now lives in South Bend. “To me, church was always fluorescent lights,” she laughed. The former Blessed Sacrament Church was once a grocery store that was supposed to be a temporary home.

“It’s great to finally have a church that represents our parish better than a grocery store,” she said.

Glick said her parents were involved in helping with the new church, including housing the new lights and organ pipes until they were ready to be installed. She said she thought it was nice that even though the church was new, there were still a lot of historic items in it.

The choir singing in the new loft — a new structural element for Blessed Sacrament — was joined by choir members from Kendallville and youth from Fort Wayne, according to Glick.

Community support

Members of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Albion were overjoyed Saturday evening, Aug. 25, to welcome Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and celebrate a Mass of dedication of their new church building, which was 26 years in the making. — John Martin

Parish secretary Pam Edwards said that the new church has been exciting not only for the parish community, but for the entire Albion community as well.

“This is a big thing in our community — a lot of people are very excited for us,” she said. On Friday evening the parish held a prayer service and open house for the Albion community, offering tours of the church and homemade ice cream and cookies. 

Dedication liturgy

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades during the liturgy dedicating the new church.

At the start of the liturgy, Bishop Rhoades was presented with the plans for the church by Susan Curtis. The keys to the church were presented by John Schenkel, Shawnee Construction. Bishop Rhoades thanked him and said to the crowd: “What a joy it is to be here. I remember a year ago when we had the groundbreaking, and here we are in this beautiful church. Congratulations to you all.”

He blessed the water in the new baptismal font with the words, “We ask the Lord to bless this water created by His hand … a sign of repentance and reminder of our baptism. As we cleanse this altar and walls of the church, we ask You to bless this water and sanctify it.” A Bible was also presented to Bishop, which he blessed, saying, “May the Word of God always be heard in this place.”

Before the bishop gave his homily, he told the congregants, “The first Mass in a new church — what a joyful occasion! You’ve been saving money for this church for 26 years.” He said he looked at the history of the parish and remembered, “The first Catholic Church here in Albion was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus 143 years ago, in the year 1875.

“Today we celebrate the dedication of this beautiful new church, dedicated to the Most Blessed Sacrament, the fourth church of this Catholic parish community of Albion. We do so with joy and thanksgiving to God. We do so with firm faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the amazing gift and mystery Our Lord gave us on the night before He died.”

In his homily, Bishop Rhoades spoke about Sunday’s Gospel, the end of Jesus’ famous Bread of Life discourse. 

“After Our Lord’s words about His flesh being real food and His blood real drink, about His real presence in the Eucharist, many of His disciples left Him, “no longer accompanied Him.” They found His teaching on the Eucharist too hard to accept. So Jesus turned to the Twelve Apostles and asked them: “Do you also want to leave?” Speaking for himself and the rest, Simon Peter answered Him: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that You are the Holy One of God.”

“For 143 years, at times in the face of anti-Catholic bigotry, Catholics of Albion have professed their faith in Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist. They continued to accompany Jesus with the faith of Saint Peter, believing in Jesus’ words about the Eucharist, believing that He has the words of eternal life. You also embrace this faith. That’s why your relatively small parish community has made so many sacrifices to construct this new church, this dwelling place of God where the Eucharist will be celebrated, and the Blessed Sacrament adored and worshipped for generations to come.”

Bishop Rhoades told them, “When a new church is dedicated, the Church also wants us to keep in mind that this building which becomes sacred today, by the anointing of its altar and walls with holy chrism, is also a sign of the Church community, of all the baptized members of the household of God,” he said. St. Paul reminds us that our Church is “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the capstone.” The Lord wants us to grow into His holy temple, a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” This material building is made sacred today. It is consecrated. But we, too, have been consecrated. The same holy chrism I will use to anoint this altar and these walls was used for our anointing at baptism and confirmation so that we might be made holy. And, of course, the grace we receive in the Eucharist helps us to grow in holiness. God comes to dwell in us by His grace. We are to be His living tabernacles in the world.”

“My brothers and sisters, we rejoice today at the dedication of your new altar and church. I pray that this beautiful church where the word of God will be proclaimed, the sacraments celebrated, and the Blessed Sacrament reserved will truly be your spiritual home, a house of prayer. Here in this holy place, may you and generations after you be built up as the Body of Christ, God’s holy people. And may the Blessed Virgin Mary, the most perfect tabernacle of the Lord, intercede for you always with her maternal love and protection!”

Prayer of dedication and anointing

Bishop Rhoades begins the Rite of Consecration of the altar.

The congregation joined the choir in the Litany of the Saints while Bishop Rhoades was presented with a relic in a monstrance which he kissed, blessed and inserted into the altar. He then offered the prayer of dedication, saying in part, “Today we come before You, to dedicate to Your lasting service this house of prayer, this temple of worship, this home in which we are nourished by Your word and Your sacraments. Here is reflected the mystery of the Church.”

He said that the Church is fruitful, holy and favored, “the dwelling place of God on earth: a temple built of living stones, founded on the apostles with Jesus Christ its corner stone.”

Anointing the altar, using the chrism oil spreading it from corner to corner as he prayed that God make the altar holy, “A visible sign of the mystery of Christ and His Church.”

He moved to the walls, anointing the walls under the candle sconces by making the sign of the cross with the chrism oil. The bishop then incensed the church, afterwards praying, “May our prayers ascend as incense in Your sight. As this building is filled with fragrance so may Your world be filled with the fragrance of Christ.”

The ceremony continued with the lighting of the church. The candles on the altar were lit while the bishop prayed, “May the Light of Christ shine forth through the church and bring all nations to the fullness of truth.” Every light in the church came on, and Deacon Stan LeMieux lit the rest of the candle sconces. Mass continued with the celebration of the Eucharist and finally, a procession of the Blessed Sacrament around the church before being reposed in the tabernacle.

Conclusion and celebratory dinner

“What can you say in a few words at a time like this?” expressed pastor Father J. Steele, CSC. “Thank you, Bishop, you’ve been gracious and generous to us and we are all gratefully indebted to you for supporting our parish, especially in our weakness.”

“When I assigned Father J. here six years ago, I didn’t ask him to build a church, but I’m so glad you did,” responded the bishop.

Father John Pearson, CSC, came back from Arizona for the dedication. Having served as chaplain in the area, for the last two years he’s come back to help with Holy Week since Father J. has another parish to care for as well as well as Blessed Sacrament. He said the people of Blessed Sacrament meant a lot to him.

Bonnie and Geoff Brose have been parishioners for 30 years. They said the new church was “amazing.” When asked if they ever thought it would happen, Bonnie said yes and no. “You always had faith, but the groundbreaking made it real. I cried then and I cried tonight,” she said.

As for their pastor, he was nearly speechless with emotion. “Over the moon,” was how he described how he was feeling as he greeted parishioners after Mass and prior to joining them for dinner.

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