Cape Coral | It took some time, but the results were spectacular as St. Katharine Drexel Parish just completed a major renovation and repair job on its Church building. So much of the Church was repaired, and the altar replaced, that Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over a rededication Nov. 17.
Bishop Dewane said the repair and renovation of the Church was a major accomplishment but small in comparison to the faithful who are “the real living stones of Christ’s Church. You are a special sign of the living Church who are called to build up His Kingdom on earth.”
The building, the physical sign of the living Church, is a place for the Sacraments, for prayer and for family, the Bishop added. Through the rededication, the Church must have dignity, and evidence a noble beauty as it serves as a sign and symbol of the heavenly realities that are meant to be expressive of “God’s boundless beauty.”
The Church received extensive damage during Hurricane Irma in September 2017 and as time progressed the extent of the needed repairs became clear. Among new items in the Church are: the altar, pews and ambo, statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a symbol of the Holy Spirit descending from the ceiling, a processional cross, as well as tiled flooring which include three medallions along the center aisle. The interior of the Church is also much brighter with fresh paint and has a new location for the Stations of the Cross. An improved sound system, that has a hearing-loop to assist those with hearing aids, was also added.
A rededication of the Church and consecration of the new altar is similar to the dedication of a new Church building. Following the opening procession, the Bishop, along with Parish Administrator Father Piotr Zugaj, first blessed the congregation with holy water, as they are the spiritual temple of the Lord and so as to recall their Baptismal promises and repentance. This was followed by the sprinkling of the walls of the Church, marking the Church as a holy place from that day forward, before finally blessing the altar and the sanctuary.
The Mass then proceeded with some minor adjustments, such as the Litany of Saints replacing the general intercessions. Following the Litany, the rites of anointing, censing, covering and lighting the altar followed. During the anointing, Bishop Dewane spread Sacred Chrism — blessed at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week — first on the altar and then in the sign of the cross at four points on the walls of the Church. This is done to provide a sacred designation for the altar and Church. Next was the censing of the altar to signify Christ’s sacrifice, and then of the nave of the Church and of the people throughout symbolizing “prayers rising up to the Lord.”
Bishop Dewane said it is important to thank all those who came before, those who in so many ways contributed to parish community. “We must be grateful to all of those who gave of themselves,” the Bishop added. “Hurricane Irma pushed us along — for better or for worse — but we are here in the house of God as part of the living Church.”
Debbie Archer said the rededication was beautiful. “I was moved to tears,” she said. “The Church is so beautiful. It is a privilege to call St. Katharine Drexel my spiritual home.”
Others were overwhelmed by the changes to the Church, noting that the improvement went beyond all expectations.
Father Zugaj said that the Parish, which has more than 3,000 families and 50 active outreach programs, is a strong Catholic community which came together following Hurricane Irma “for God’s Glory; we did it.”