||Incense rises to heaven as Bishop Robert C. Morlino dedicates the new St. Francis of Assisi Church in Belleville. Bishop Morlino called the new church a marvelous place of light and called upon parishioners “to be the light of the Church, as well.” (Catholic Herald photo/Marian Viney)
BELLEVILLE -- On a glorious fall day, with corn ready to be harvested in a field behind the church and pumpkins and fall flowers in front of the altar, Bishop Robert C. Morlino described St. Francis of Assisi Church as a marvelous place of light as he prepared for the Mass of Dedication with Fr. Mick Moon, pastor, on Sunday, Oct. 10, at the 11 a.m. Mass.
He thanked Fr. Ken Klink, previous pastor, for starting the foundation of the new church and thanked “the parishioners who have sacrificed so much to build this beautiful church.”
They were joined by Msgr. James Bartylla, who served as master of ceremonies. Also assisting with the dedication were Corky Sparby, Marie Dohm, Alex Yeiser, Madeline Yeiser, and members of the choir including Bill and Julie Carlson, Roger Vandenwildenberg, Gloria Jacobson, Irene Ford, Ruth O’Connor, Kathy Rufener, Mara Rohde, and pianist Jeanne Felix.
“This church will be a beacon of light in our area,” said Bishop Morlino. “And you as parishioners always remember that you are called upon to be the light of the Church, as well.”
Thankfulness for God’s gifts
Bishop Morlino encouraged parishioners to renew their sense of thankfulness because “God’s presence in our lives is a big deal!”
He added that sometimes Catholics take God for granted and that we forget God after Sunday. Bishop Morlino asked that we “be grateful for all that you receive through God and your church community.”
Proceeding with the dedication he explained that it is like a baptism in that the altar is prepared and that the altar receives a white covering just as a baby does during a baptism and that “white can’t ever be taken away.”
Bishop Morlino anointed the altar and the four walls of the church, used incense as a symbol of the prayer of the faithful rising to heaven, and then lit the altar candles and candles at the four crosses throughout the church. Father Moon assisted with anointing the crosses and lighting of the candles near the walls of the church.
Reflecting on the dedication ceremony, Father Moon said that even a time after the service, the incense was rising into the sunlight in the church.
“It was beautiful, it was inspiring to see the incense rising just as our prayers rise unto the Lord in terms of praise, thanksgiving, and petition,” said Father Moon.
And just as Bishop Morlino commented about the light streaming into St. Francis, Father Moon added that “we are called upon and strengthened to spread the light of Christ throughout the world.”
Following the Mass, those in attendance enjoyed cake and beverages.
Church Council President Tim Young handed the key for St. Francis of Assisi to Bishop Morlino along with Phil Fahey, who along with his wife Marilyn and family, donated the 9.5 acres of land on which the church was built.
Just as the Gospel had the message of gratitude and being grateful, Father Moon said that “there are so many people to thank: Father Klink, staff with Findorff and Son’s, members of many committees, and parishioners who made this plan for a new church a reality.”
During the planning process, Father Klink explained that “the congregations of St. James in Dayton, St. Mary of Lourdes in Belleville, St. Patrick in Albany, St. William in Paoli, and St. Andrew in Verona will all be linked together. In the not so distant future there will be one priest serving all five congregations so we want to put together a building that will meet the needs of the clientele.”
Excavating was started for the new $4.7 million church during the fall of 2007 and the building process was concluded during the fall of 2008. On August 3, families with St. James in Dayton celebrated their final Mass and donated some of the stained glass windows that were used in the Chapel. The first Mass at St. Francis of Assisi was celebrated on November 2, 2008.
To conclude his visit, Bishop Morlino also blessed the Rosary Path that was designed by Andrew Minneci for his Eagle Project.