Parishioners begin to gather at the new
building before its dedication.
Hundreds of Catholics and many non-Catholics gathered on the grounds of St. Francis of Assisi Parish to witness and celebrate the dedication of the new Saint Francis Church located in Union Township just outside of Finleyville. Members of the Parish and other nearby Parishes observed the dedication ceremonies woven with the rituals that have been with the Catholic Church for many hundreds of years.
Bishop Zubik, Prelate of the Diocese of Pittsburgh was on hand with members of his staff to oversee the dedication of the newest Church in the Pittsburgh Diocese. The first part of the ceremony took place at the entrance to the church. The building architect, Robert Murray of Pittsburgh, symbolically handed the keys and plans of the building to Bishop Zubik who in turn handed them to Father Robert Boyle – Administrator of St. Francis of Assisi Parish. Father Boyle then entered the building and led the procession of clergy and lay-people into the building and to the sanctuary. Bishop Zubik then blessed the pillars of the building, the sanctuary, the altar and those in attendance with Holy Water. Incense was next used as part of the ritual blessing throughout the building.
The next part of the ceremony involved blessing of the altar. Bishop Zubik covered the granite altar with Holy Oil and spread the oil over every part of the altar’s surface. On completion of the prayers of blessing, members of the parish wiped the oil from the altar. Every member of the Parish was then invited to approach the altar to pay reverence with a kiss. With the blessings completed, the Holy Eucharist was brought to the Altar and a Dedication Mass was said by Bishop Zubik, Father Boyle and Deacon Vic Slater assisted by the members of the Bishop’s staff.
Bishop Zubik, Father Boyle and Deacon Slater
are ready to begin the dedication.
After the ceremonies, Bishop Zubik acknowledged the role played by Father Boyle in bringing the new Church to reality. “It is obvious to me that Father Boyle is well-loved by his Parishioners,” said the Bishop. After receiving a congratulatory hug from the Bishop, a few tears were noticed in those Irish Eyes. Indeed, it took a special Priest and a strong group of lay-people assisting him to plan, finance and build a new church in the existing environment.
The Dedication Mass was followed by a reception in Finley Hall just across the driveway from the (now) St. Francis of Assisi Church. Sunday Masses had been celebrated in Finley Hall since 1970 to accommodate the growing Parish. The Parish had long ago outgrown the old St. Francis Church on Washington Avenue in Finleyville. Parishioners have been saying since 1970 that, “Someday we’ll build a new Church.” Parishioner Carol Schneider reminded me that “someday” is finally here.