Rebuild My Church!

The contractors and workers who have been laboring feverishly on St. Mary’s are on their holiday break. At this moment, everything is silents within the church. But this doesn’t mean renewal has come to a halt. Quite the contrary. On Christmas Eve, Sacred Heart Parish took a major leap forward.

Traditionally, we have had two vigils with a combined total of about 2000 people. Since the Parish Activity Center can hold that amount with chairs we decided to have one large celebration. Those who were there can give their own testimony to the power of praying with that many people. For many it was the biggest Mass they’ve ever attended.

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The music was amazing. Kudos to Kristi Heng and the Praise & Sing Choir.

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What’s happening is that the beauty of parish life is being revealed. For the most part, people have a limited view of the scope of their parish because they usually attend the same Mass, enter through the same door, and by the same people. By stepping out of that routine we are making new connections to people we see all the time and never even knew were Catholic! This is what makes belonging to a parish so life-giving.

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God has more for us. Jesus promised abundant life, not average or mediocre. All too often we place a limit on what He can do instead of letting Him give us what He promised. We will have received a lot during this time of renewal if we start reaching out for more. Jesus came to bring a fire to the world and he wants it to be blazing.

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Merry Christmas to you – an awesome season of grace.

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Steady progress

We are seeing steady progress in many areas throughout the church.

The front entrance is being prepared to expand the narthex (gathering space) and add a covering that will reach over the existing steps. Here’s a picture of the stucco ceiling removed:

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And here is a computer generated image of how the front will look:

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The acoustic panels in the top third of the dome are almost finished:

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The north side of the church is being prepared to receive the new sacristy and adoration chapel:

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Things you won’t see

The end result of the renewal of St. Mary’s will be church filled with light and warmth. Along with this there are important improvements that may not be as visible.

To this point St. Mary’s has only had three toilet seats in the whole building. We’re going to improve on that. We have had to use toilets with water tanks because of the size of the water line that services the building. By installing a 2 inch line we will be able to use commercial toilets like this:

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Here is a picture of the new water line (blue pipe):

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In a previous post I talked about physical acoustical enhancements that will aid in better sound. One of these improvements is an acoustical paneling that will cover the top 13 feet of the dome. Here’s a look at the first portion of the panels being installed and the lift the workers are using. Better them than me!

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The most important interior renewal

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It’s exciting to see the interior of St. Mary’s transformed day by day. However, this time of renewal is more about our heart than it is about bricks and mortar. The beauty of Christianity is that we can be at home even when we have no physical space of our own to call “home”. When we rest in the heart of the Trinity, we are truly able to rest, and this peace can never be taken from us.

Encounters with Jesus, Son of God and Savior, make this happen. Each time we encounter Jesus we settle more deeply into our true home. Advent is all about encountering the Word made flesh – Jesus Christ. How astonishing that God would love us so much that he would assume our vulnerable humanity. Since this is true we know that he is always for us and never against us.

When we encounter Jesus in the Sacrament of Confession he reaffirms that he’s for us. The result is impressive and liberating – we are free from the heavy chains that weigh us down. How unnecessary it is to keep carrying burdens when the merciful Lord is ready, willing, and able to set us free.

Several priests will be joining coming to our parish Sunday, December 14th at 7 pm in Burns Hall to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Please come and put them to work! We have Reconciliation services to allow a greater number of people to receive Jesus’ healing. So, let’s make a point to gather together to receive the healing of the Savior of the world. It’s the best and most necessary kind of renewal.

New windows…and a bit more space

St. Mary’s can be very dark at night and on cloudy days but with bright sunlight the scene is dramatically different. Each corner courtyard houses quite a bit of clear glass. Over the years the seals have given way which means we are waisting quite a bit of energy. The construction crew is making preparations to replace the glass by setting up a canopy that will keep the weather out during the swap.

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We will be gaining a bit of space in two areas of the church – the south entrance and the east wing. The east wing will be the home of a good sized room serving the dual purpose of a choir room and bride’s room. There will also be a restroom and two new confessionals. Here is a picture of workers preparing to pour new footings so that the wall can be moved out about 5 feet.

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