By Lara Pickford-Gordon
It was a joyful return “home” for parishioners at the rededication of St Mary’s RC Church, Mucurapo which was closed five years for renovations. In the interim, Masses were held at Mucurapo Girls’ RC School and the Carmelite Hall, Cocorite.
A large congregation attended the rededication Mass last Sunday. Parishioners expressed joy at having their church available to them again.
“Finally, about time. We waited so long. We are grateful we got a lot of people to assist in having it completed,” Janine Deosaran commented.
Christopher Fortune said the return was long awaited: “We are back in our home and our church.”
Councillor Jameel Bisnath was married at St Mary’s and proud to say he celebrated his 11th anniversary October 19. His grandparents were also married at the church. He said St James was a close-knit community and everybody will return to the church.
Ray Anthony Setna, another parishioner, was impressed with what he saw: “Awesome, beautiful, gorgeous. One of the nicest in the diocese now.” He added, “I did not expect it to be so beautiful”.
Chief celebrant Archbishop Jason Gordon jokingly commended the “persistence of the pestering” by parishioners and called for applause for “the relentlessness of the persistent prayer, the relentless spirit of the community that separated from the house of prayer, separated from the place of worship, you continued on week after week in conditions that were less than admirable”.
In his homily, Archbishop Gordon said the First Reading (Nehemiah 8 10–4a; 5–6; 8–10) was “special” because of the rededication taking place. The House of God in Israel was in ruins and the reading recounted what Nehemiah and Ezra did to move the community to “a mode of rebuilding”. Ezra read from the law and it was translated and explained so the people could understand. “Nehemiah understood if there is to be a rebuilding of the House of God it has to start with a rebuilding of the people of God; it has to start with a listening to God’s Word and an obedience to God’s Word,” Archbishop Gordon said. The Word of God gave the people the conviction for the physical rebuilding to begin.
Rebuilding the physical structure was “the easy part”, the “real work” was how the space influenced them.
Archbishop Gordon challenged, “Now that we are home, now that we take possession of this beautiful space, how is this beautiful space going to impact on the depth of discipleship you are called to as a people of God?”
Before the Liturgy, Tom McCartney, architect, OBM International, representing the Restoration Building Committee presented Archbishop Gordon with the plans and key for the church.
Delivering remarks, he said he was speaking for many because if all who sought the church reestablished and reaffirmed were present the sanctuary would be filled.
He mentioned the work done on the foundation and floors, roof sheeting, windows, and doors. McCartney said the internal environment was fixed to allow the sacrifice of the Mass to take place without any interruptions or distractions. A proscenium arch, i.e. a frame, was installed at the front of the altar.
McCartney said, “when you enter the church there is no query as to where the Lord is, the focus is there…on the altar.” Parishioners no longer have to hear the noise of traffic on George Cabral Street and Western Main Road.
In a telephone interview last Monday, McCartney told the Catholic News the new windows were “double glazed”—two layers with a space between which allowed for sound reduction.
Three porticos (a covered walkway supported by regularly spaced columns) and two sub-porticos were erected and a mechanical deck on the east and west façade for the air-conditioning system. McCartney disclosed the walls were replastered with lime mortar because the old mortar was defective and had to be removed.
The rededication ritual began with the blessing and sprinkling of holy water on the people and the walls. The depositing of relics of St Narcisa de Jesús Martillo-Morán of Ecuador and martyr Jose Sanchez Del Rio, of Mexico followed the Liturgy of the Word. Archbishop Gordon anointed the altar with chrism while Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju and parish priest Fr Emmanuel Pierre anointed the walls.
Incense was placed on the altar to signify prayers and offering on the altar ascending to God, and the incensing of the congregation, a sign of honour as living temples of God’s spirit.
Afterwards, candles were lit signifying that Christ is the light of the world and His brightness shines out in the Church to the world.
The Mass continued with the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Fr Pierre gave the vote of thanks. Likening the church to a baby, he said it needed plenty love, support and quipped “plenty money”.
The rebuilding cost about $14 million and there is a $5 million balance to be cleared by the parish.
Mass times at St Mary’s are Saturday 5.30 pm, Sunday 7.30 a.m. and 9.30 a.m. Weekdays: Tuesday 6 p.m. and Wednesday to Friday 6.15 a.m.