Bishop Hicks Consecrates New St. Mary Altar in Special Dedication Mass

History was made at St. Mary on Friday, April 8th, as Bishop Ronald Hicks arrived to dedicate the church’s renovated worship space, particularly the new altar. After years of planning and fundraising, and months of construction, the parish unveiled the renovated worship space in a beautiful Mass that also witnessed the premiere of the revamped St. Mary choir.

The multimillion-dollar project was undertaken to renew and beautify the church and was made possible by donations from generous St. Mary parishioners. Construction began in January 2022 and ended at 1:00 PM on the day of the dedication Mass.

Procession into Mass
Procession into church for the Dedication of the Altar Mass

“We were down to the wire!” said Father Dindo Billote, pastor of St. Mary. “It was a true miracle! The Church renovation was completed in time and is completely gorgeous! It was God’s grace that helped St. Mary!”

Taking center position in the worship space is a large, new tabernacle inscribed with the Latin words for “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts.” According to Father Billote, the tabernacle should command awe and reverence. “The tabernacle represents the Holy of Holies where the living God resides in the Blessed Sacrament. We must always have a fitting and powerful tabernacle in our worship space.”

Renovated St. Mary Altar
The renovated St. Mary altar before the Dedication Mass.

The altar area has been enlarged and tiled with marble. The altar itself is made of marble and includes a carving of the Last Supper. Two side altars are dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. Other changes include a tiled floor throughout the church and the repositioning of the choir area to the back. In addition, Fr. Billote painted an image of the risen Jesus, which he donated to be placed in the renovated church.

Dedicating the Altar

According to Church law, since the altar was new, it had to be blessed and consecrated by the local bishop to host valid Masses. This was accomplished through a special Mass designed specifically for such purpose.

The Prayer of Dedication began after the Homily when Bishop Hicks anointed the altar with Sacred Chrism oil. He first poured the oil at different points on the altar top (Mensa) before rubbing it across the entire surface with his hands.

Anointing of the Altar
Bishop Hicks anoints the new St. Mary altar.

“The altar represents Jesus Christ; that’s why the priest kisses the altar before every Mass out of reverence,” explained Father Billote. “When Bishop Hicks was anointing the altar with oil, I felt that he was anointing Christ, like when the woman in the Bible poured expensive oil on Jesus’ feet and wiped it with her hair!  Or, when Jesus’ dead body was anointed with oil and wrapped in burial cloths before being laid in the tomb.”

The second part of the dedication was called the Incensation and involved the bishop burning Holy Incense on the altar top. “The incense smoke represents our prayers going up to heaven,” said Father Billote.

Incensation of the Altar
Bishop Hicks incenses the altar.

Afterward, it was time to dress the newly consecrated altar for the first time. Female parishioners came to wipe and cover the altar with cloth. Next, male parishioners brought candles to the altar and Deacon John Rex lit them.

At the end of Mass, Bishop Hicks processed the Blessed Sacrament around the church before blessing and incensing the new tabernacle.

A Parish-Wide Effort

The new St. Mary Choir provided the musical backdrop to the Mass of Dedication. “Our sacred liturgy was made very special by our new Sacred Music Director Michael Berger, lead cantor Kathleen Monson, and the beautiful voices of our St. Mary Parish Choir!” said Father Billote. “They did a fantastic job and I thank them!”

Father Dindo
Left: Father Dindo stands next to the new St. Mary tabernacle. Right: Fr. Dindo’s painting of the Risen Jesus, which he donated to the Church.

Father Billote mentioned that Bishop Hicks was struck by the renovation. “The bishop said we retained the structure that was here from the 1980s but updated it in a very elegant and traditional way that gives glory to God in reverent worship…He told me, ‘Fr. Dindo, I give your renovation an A+.’”

Although the worship space is now renovated, the next phase of the project is set to begin, which will involve refinishing the pews and renovating the narthex and chapel. If the first phase is any indication, these upcoming projects are sure to leave parishioners awestruck.

“My heart is so full of thanksgiving and love!” said Father Billote. “I’m humbled by the stunningly beautiful Mass and am thankful for all the donors and all the volunteers that helped with our capital campaign. God is good.”

Watch the recording of the St. Mary Altar Dedication Mass below!

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