William Schmitt
Freelance Writer
November 8, 2017 // Local

St. Pius X baptistery, gathering space blessed

William Schmitt
Freelance Writer

At the All Saints’ Day Mass at the new St. Pius X Church in Granger, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades blessed the new baptistery and Parish Life Center in the space of the former church. Over 1,000 parishioners, including the children of St. Pius X School, attended the Mass celebrated by Bishop Rhoades and concelebrated by the parish pastor, Msgr. William Schooler, and parochial vicar, Father Eric Burgener. 

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At the beginning of Mass, Bishop Rhoades blessed the new Parish Life Center containing a large narthex to the church, meeting rooms and offices. On the wall of the former church sanctuary is displayed in large letters the motto of the parish patron, St. Pius X: “To Renew All Things in Christ,” a motto embraced by St. Pius X Parish in its mission and ministries. 

The new baptistery at St. Pius X Parish, Granger, was blessed during a Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades on All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1. The octagonal structure, which accommodates baptism by immersion, features the same reflection on the sacrament of baptism inscribed on the baptistery of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.— All photos by Derby Photography

After the homily, Bishop Rhoades returned to the Parish Life Center to bless the octagonal baptistery. The octagon represents the “eighth day” of creation, a symbol of new birth. 

The baptistery, with a Romanesque design rooted deep in history, just like the new church, also represents Catholics’ faith journey of the past, present and future.

The sanctuary of the former St. Pius X Church, Granger, has been transformed into a gathering space inside the new church. The phrase engraved on the wall, “To Renew All Things in Christ,” was the motto of parish patron Pope St. Pius X.

In his homily, the bishop explained that “at baptism we become adopted sons and daughters of God and are incorporated into Christ and His body, the Church. We become members of the community of salvation, the communion of saints. This is the beginning of our journey to heaven, our journey to join the company of the saints in heaven.”

Samuel Frick chose to depict Giuseppe Sarto, the future Pope St. Pius X and his parish’s namesake. The young Giuseppe came from such poverty that he walked the 6 miles to school barefoot every day, in order to avoid wearing out his only pair of shoes.

Inscribed around the base of the baptismal font is a catechetical reflection on Pope St. Leo the Great’s words on baptism written by Pope Sixtus III, who shepherded the church during the years 432-440. The same reflection is engraved on the baptistery of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. The baptistery at St. John Lateran was the first to be constructed after the Emperor Constantine granted freedom of worship to Christians in 313.

The inscription reads, in both Latin and English: “Hope for the Kingdom of Heaven, you who are reborn in this font. Eternal life does not await those who are only born once. This is the spring of life that waters the whole world, taking its origin from the Wounds of Christ. Sinner, to be purified, go down into the holy water. It receives the unregenerate and brings him forth a new man. If you wish to be made innocent, be cleansed in this pool, whether you are weighed down by original sin or your own. There is no barrier between those who are reborn and made one by the one font, the one Spirit, and the one faith. Let neither the number nor the kind of their sins terrify anyone; once reborn in this water, they will be holy.”

Noting the combined occasion of the All Saints’ Day Mass, the blessing of the attached community spaces and the new church’s prominent images of saints, Bishop Rhoades said each Catholic’s life as a pilgrim is nurtured not only by baptism but by other sacraments — specifically, the holy Eucharist as food for the journey and reconciliation to help Catholics return to the right path. That path, he said, leads to the beatific vision, seeing God in heaven; The journey involves praying to the saints for their intercession and following their example in living the Beatitudes heard in the Gospel of All Saints’ Day.

The students present at the Mass affirmed the journey. All the fourth-grade students, who had dressed up as saints to mark the feast day, processed up during the Presentation of the Gifts, and the bishop asked each of them about the saint they represented; noting that each was really a story about a pilgrimage that reached its destination.

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