It has been a busy year for the Archdiocese, with a number of landmark events. Yet another took place on 29 November at St. Alphonsus. The parish community had completed the renovation of the church sanctuary and the installation of a number of beautiful new stained glass windows. As the church itself, for reasons unknown, had never been dedicated, it was decided to use this occasion to consecrate the whole building.
The weather outside was icy but the atmosphere inside was warm as the assembling congregation was welcomed by piper Scott Glasgow. Noel Donnelly, on clarsach, and the St. Mungo Singers provided music until the Mass began with the procession of concelebrating priests and principal celebrant Archbishop Conti, led in by the piper to the tune of “Highland Cathedral”.
The congregation then sang the opening hymn, the Advent favourite, “Come, O Divine Messiah”, before the Archbishop blessed people and building with holy water, to the accompaniment of the Mallaig Sprinkling Song.
In his homily, Archbishop Conti declared the Rite of Dedication of a Church to be one of the most solemn liturgical actions because the church building is an image of the people of God, and the building itself is held holy because it is the house of God. The Liturgy of Dedication followed, beginning with the Litany of Saints. The Archbishop said the Prayer of Dedication and anointed first the altar and then the walls of the church with chrism, as the St. Mungo Singers led the congregation in singing “Be still for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One, is here”, a very appropriate hymn for the occasion.
The next stage was the incensation of the altar, with incense burned in a large fire lit on the altar itself. The deacon then incensed the congregation and the church walls, while Noel Donnelly’s “Veni, veni” was sung in invocation. Finally the candles in sconces around the church were lit from the fire on the altar, the chrism was polished into the altar surface and the altar itself made ready for the celebration of the Eucharist.
At the end of the Mass, the Parish Priest, Fr. John Ceresoli, thanked everyone for their presence and participation in what he described as a very moving and sacred celebration which would be marked each year as the feast of the church’s dedication. He then invited all present to join the parish community and enjoy some hospitality in the hall behind the church. The parish had indeed provided a wonderful buffet and a birthday cake for the event which Archbishop Conti was invited to cut.