Next Sunday we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Dedication of the big church, a parish dedicated under the name of our patron saint, Saint Anthony of Padua. From our earliest history, our Jewish ancestors dedicated sacred places, altars of sacrifice and the temples in Jerusalem. Places set aside for worship to honor, praise and appeal to God on behalf of the needs of the people. Now as Christians we carry on that tradition, churches designed, built and used, set aside where the faithful people can gather together on feasts and Sundays, join together in prayer from individual prayer and devotions to communal acts of prayer and public devotion.
It is a tradition to dedicate a new church building, consecrating it for the sacred celebrations that will take place within the confines of its four walls, so the altar is consecrated with Sacred Chrism, candles are lit and placed in fixtures on each wall of the church. All the sacred furnishings are blessed. We recognize that even in a multi-purpose church like ours the sacred furnishings are used for one purpose – worship, the celebration of the Mass and sacraments, Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, witnessing marriages, reconciling the faithful and performing the corporal works of mercy, honoring the dead within the Mass of Christian burial or Memorial Service.
A church is the symbol of the faith community, that we gather in a specific place on Sunday, the day of the Lord, the Sabbath, the day of rest. We gather together as we strive for “conscious, active participation” in the life of the church and its sacraments primarily through the Eucharist where Christ shares his very life, very presence in the mystery of the bread and wine that become His Body and Blood. His gift of self not only nourishes us, but sustains us as we face the daily challenges of living our faith and announcing the Good News of the Gospel to those we meet.
After twenty-five years, we will pause next Sunday with our third Bishop Oscar Cantu to celebrate this important anniversary in the life of our faith community that began in 1975, recognized as a parish in 1982, dedicated by Bishop Pierre DuMaine, our first bishop in 1994. For long time parishioners, what is/was your fondest memory of any celebration in Saint Anthony Church? I would look forward to hearing your responses. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us gather together lifting our voices in joyful prayer, song and praise, in thanksgiving for all that God has done for us over twenty-five, thirty-seven or forty-four years. I hope you can be here.
Father Larry Hendel, Pastor