(Kermit Constantine photos)
The long-awaited dedication of the new Immaculate Conception Catholic Church at 411 Palmer Road in Columbia did not disappoint.
What started as an idea 16 years ago became a reality on Sunday. And for generations of local Catholics, the dedication rite was inspiring and spiritual.
Bishop Edward K. Braxton presided over the ceremony along with other priests before a capacity crowd.
After Father Carl Scherrer opened the doors for the precession to begin, key representatives involved in the project presented Bishop Braxton with the plans and key to the door of the church.
The Bishop then added water that once flowed in the River Jordan into the baptismal font. The water was a gift from parishioner David Straub, who made a recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The Bishop blessed the water and sprinkled it upon the people.Bishop Edward Braxton waves to parishioners at the conclusion of the service.
The dedication rite moved to the liturgy of the word and lectern, where the Word of God was proclaimed for the first time in the new church.
Then came the anointing of the altar and church walls. The Bishop poured sacred oil onto the corners of the altar and moved the oil around to evenly coat its top and sides. The remaining oil was distributed to the priests, who anointed crosses throughout the church.
The anointing of the church signifies it is given over entirely to Christian worship. Then came incensation of the altar and the church.
The last phase of the dedication was the lighting of the altar and church, cleaning of the altar and preparation for the celebration of the Eucharist.
Father Scherrer gave his thanks to all involved in making the new church a reality. He then requested that the bells moved from old church to new be rung once again.Choir members sing during the dedication service inside the new Immaculate Conception Church in Columbia on Sunday.
Parishioner Bill Kilian, who for many years rang these bells manually, was asked once again to ring them. Kilian walked to the front of the altar and faced the congregation. And from a handheld remote, he rang the bells once more to the delight of everyone in attendance.
The service was attended by Columbia Mayor Kevin Hutchinson and Monroe County Board Chairman Delbert Wittenauer.
“It was an honor to be part of this awe-inspiring event,” Hutchinson said afterward. “The sights, the smells, the songs, the blessings and the Word of God were stimulating and warm like a candlelight service on Christmas Eve.
“God’s love and the love of Christian fellowship were overflowing in Columbia.”