Bishop Morlino dedicates new St. Cecilia Church in Wisconsin Dells Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Sep. 08, 2016 -- 12:00 AM
dells church altar
Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison incenses the altar at the new St. Cecilia Church in Wisconsin Dells during its Solemn Mass of Dedication on August 28. Also pictured are Permanent Deacon Jim Hoegemeier (left) and Transitional Deacon Luke Syse. To view or purchase photos, go to
(Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

WISCONSIN DELLS -- A dream more than 15 years in the making has finally become a reality.

A standing-room only crowd attended Mass in the new St. Cecilia Church in Wisconsin Dells for its Solemn Mass of Dedication on August 28.

Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison presided at the Mass.

Building project

The building began in May of last year with the careful deconstruction of the original St. Cecilia Church that served the community since 1902.

The old church could seat 350 parishioners, but could no longer serve a growing congregation -- currently 650 families -- and the many visitors who attend Mass when in town for vacations or sporting events.

The decision was made to take down the church, saving important artifacts and incorporating them into a new church on the same site at 603 Oak St.

The new church can accommodate 850 worshippers.

The $11.5 million construction project was the culmination of more than 15 years of planning and fundraising by the congregation.

For more on the new St. Cecilia Church, read Mary Uhler's editorial, "A dream becomes a reality."
Opening the new church

On the dedication day, the doors opened at 1:30 p.m., one hour before Mass.

A line had been forming outside since early afternoon and a steady stream of people immediately walked in when Pastor Fr. Eric Sternberg and Parochial Vicar Fr. Joseph Baker opened the outside doors.

The overflow crowd sat in the gathering space in the back of church or stood around the pews in the church.

Prior to the start of Mass, parish trustees along with representatives from Kraemer Brothers Construction, River Valley Architects, Affiliated Artists, and parish staff members welcomed Bishop Morlino.

Kraemer Brothers representatives presented the bishop with a set of plans for the church and trustees handed the bishop a set of keys to the church.

The bishop, along with other priests from the diocese, processed into the church as Mass began, followed by members of the Knights of Columbus.

Mass of Dedication

Following the opening hymn, “O God, Beyond All Praising,” Bishop Morlino blessed holy water and walked through the body of the church, blessing the walls and the people.

Mass continued with the Gloria and the readings and Psalm, read and led by Bob VanWie, Donna Momot, and Kelli Trumble-Borcher. Transitional Deacon Luke Syse read the Gospel.

In his homily, Bishop Morlino invoked the words of St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI that, “When one approaches the celebration of the Eucharist one should experience the attitude of amazement.”

“What does amazement mean?” the bishop asked. “Amazement means looking around, as I did, when I first entered the church . . . and saying ‘wow’ . . . Amazement is one giant wow.”

“Today, we are saying to the Lord, ‘this is your house.’ And the Lord, in the beautiful ritual that we celebrate, is accepting this house as his own,” Bishop Morlino said.

Dedication rites

Following the homily, a Litany of Saints was sung asking for their intercession on the new church.

The church’s relics were then placed in their respective altars. A relic of St. Jude the Apostle was placed under the high altar, a relic of the True Cross was placed in the side altar shrine of the Sacred Heart, and a relic of St. Cecilia was placed in a side altar shrine of St. Cecilia.

Bishop Morlino then prayed a prayer of dedication to consecrate the church and anointed the low altar with Sacred Chrism.

The bishop next incensed the altar, which was followed by Deacon Syse and Permanent Deacon Jim Hoegemeier incensing the walls and the people.

Diocesan priests wiped the Chrism off the altar before a cloth was put upon it.

Altar clothes and flowers for the altar were brought up by parishioners Tom and Terri Lucke, Teresa Momot, Dan and Linda Gantz, and Tim and Sue Gantz.

Bishop Morlino gave Deacons Hoegemeier and Syse each a lighted candle they used to light all the church candles.

Parishioners John and JoAnne VanWie brought up the bread, wine, and water for consecration as Mass continued.

Conclusion of the project

Toward the end of Mass, Father Sternberg then spoke to everyone, first thanking Bishop Morlino for celebrating the Mass.

He also thanked his staff at St. Cecilia and the families of late pastors Fr. Michael Richel and Msgr. Felix Oehrlein.

“This is not my dream, “ Father Sternberg said, “This is Monsignor Felix’s dream.”

He added, “I’m proud that a good Kraut boy from Sauk [City] started this project and good Kraut boy from Sauk finished this project,” also saying he was proud that Father Richel was “in the middle of it.”

He then asked for the intercession of Mary as parishioners brought flowers before images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Czestochowa -- celebrating the parish’s Polish heritage.

Following Mass, a dinner was held outside on the parish grounds, following by a ringing of the church bells and a fireworks display.

For more on St. Cecilia Parish, go to