Bishop dedicates new St. Paul's Church in Madison Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
st paul's church inside
A look inside the new St. Paul Church on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus prior to its dedication Mass November 12. The church opened after a nearly two-year building project, replacing the old structure in the same location. To view or purchase photos, go to (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- It’s a time of celebration and a new era at St. Paul Church on the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison campus.

After being without “a real home” for nearly two years, the new church opened its doors on November 12, and the parish continues its mission to serve the UW-Madison community.

Opening the doors

As students and benefactors gathered in the new church awaiting the dedication Mass, Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison and others in the procession -- including guest priests and members of the Knights of Columbus -- stood in the narthex outside the closed doors.

Pastor Fr. Eric Nielsen handed Bishop Morlino a gold envelope containing the access key code for the front door of the center and a key to the church doors.

Bishop Morlino called for Father Nielsen to open the doors, saying, “Go within His gates, giving thanks; enter his courts with songs of praise.”

The Mass began as the procession went toward and entered the sanctuary.

Bishop Morlino then blessed the altar and tabernacle with holy water.

St. Paul Parochial Vicars Frs. Mark Miller and Luke Syse blessed the walls and interior of the church with holy water and also sprinkled it over the people inside.

As Mass continued, St. Paul students Michelle Fernandez and Ethan Brochtrup read the first and second readings. Andrew Wenman led the singing of the responsorial psalm. Father Nielsen read the Gospel.

An example of beauty

Bishop Morlino began his homily exclaiming, “How awesome is this sanctuary, Scripture says . . . This is none other than a house of God. This is the gate of heaven.”

Bishop Morlino called the new church an example of God’s beauty.

“Beauty is our tool of evangelization,” Bishop Morlino said. “Beauty is a way that every human person can come to know God because God is beauty itself.”

The bishop continued, “This is magnificent, but it’s still limited . . . we’re reminded of the unlimited God, who not only gives beauty itself, but who wants to fashion each of us, through this temple, into a beautiful work of art. That’s what our Christian lives are about.”

He added, “When we come here, we can’t help but be reminded that’s what we’re about because as beautiful as this is, God can make every one of us more beautiful.”

He encouraged the students to use the new church as a place for discernment, whether their vocations be to the priesthood, Religious Life, or marriage.

Rites of Dedication

Following Bishop Morlino’s homily, Rites of Dedication were performed.

“Let us ask the saints to support our prayers to God the father almighty, Who has made the hearts of His people faithful temples of His Spirit,” Bishop Morlino prayed.

A litany of saints was sung, led by Erin Weyers.

Following the litany, Father Nielsen presented Bishop Morlino with a relic of St. Paul, which was placed in the altar.

The bishop then said a prayer of dedication before anointing the altar with Sacred Chrism.

Msgr. James Bartylla, vicar general for the Diocese of Madison, anointed the 14 crosses of the Stations in the church with Sacred Chrism.

The altar was then incensed by the bishop, along with the rest of the church by Fathers Miller and Syse.

Members of the parish brought the altar cloths, candles, and altar cross to the sanctuary where they were placed on the altar and prepared for their use in celebrating Mass.

The dedication Mass continued with the consecration of the Eucharist.

Concluding rites

Following the distribution of Communion was the Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament.

The ciboria containing the body of Christ was incensed and placed into the tabernacle.

The door to it was closed, and a candle was lit and placed in a lamp showing Christ is present.

As the Mass came to a close, Father Nielsen thanked Bishop Morlino for being there and for his “eloquent” homily.

He also thanked St. Joseph, “Whose silent intercession really helped us with this whole project.”

He noted the St. Joseph Shrine in the church, soon to be completed.

See the new St. Paul’s

There will be Masses and tours of St. Paul’s on Sunday, Nov. 26.

Masses are at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 6 p.m., and 9 p.m. and the tours are self-led.

For more information, go to

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