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New Leesburg church dedicated
St. John the Apostle parishioners rejoice in new home.
Dave Borowski | Catholic Herald
Dave Borowski | Catholic Herald
The relics, and the reredos, or altarpiece at the new St. John the Apostle Church came from a church in New Jersey.

If you entered the newly constructed St. John the Apostle Church Aug. 3 just before the official dedication ceremony, you would have smelled fresh paint. Ken Tschida, development director, said that some things were not finished until noon that day. He added that you probably could smell mortar and drywall compound too.

But it all came together as hundreds waited for Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde, assisted by Father John P. Mosimann, pastor, and the priests and deacons of the Arlington Diocese, to perform the ancient rite of dedication. The beautiful new $15 million building was ready to become the diocese’s newest Catholic church. The new church has a capacity of 1,100. There are nearly 7,000 parishioners at the parish.

Parishioners have been waiting for this day since ground was broken for construction in October 2010. The original church was dedicated in 1868, and many design elements of the first church have been included in the design of the new.

As the time for dedication arrived, Holy Family Council Knights of Columbus, clergy and parishioners processed from the parish center across the parking lot to the new building as psalmist Tosia Shall chanted Psalm 122 — “Let us go rejoicing.”

In front of the church, the keys and the the construction drawings were formally presented to Bishop Loverde by parishioners Mary Davis and Bill Knauer. Father Mosimann unlocked the doors to the new church as the bishop and the people processed in to begin the dedication ceremony.

Bishop Loverde walked throughout the nave blessing the walls, altar and the people with holy water. After the litany of the saints, the bishop sealed the relics in the altar. The relics and the reredos, or altarpiece, were from the former Sacred Heart Church in Vailsburg, N.J., in the Archdiocese of Newark.

After the ritual anointing of the altar with sacred chrism, the bishop and other clergy anointed the walls of the church with oil.

The bishop then blessed the altar with incense, letting the smoke waft through the church symbolizing the prayers of the faithful rising to God.

The altar was wiped dry of chrism and adorned with cloths and candles in preparation for the celebration of Mass.

“This is your new home, to dedicate to God’s glory and praise,” the bishop said in his homily.

The bishop said that the altar is the focal point of the church and the table of sacrifice.

When Mass ended, a tremendous noise of joy arose from the pews with applause and cheering.

Father Mosimann’s remarks after Mass were a thank-you for everyone who made the event possible.

“Thanks be to God. Thanks be to God,” he said.

Bishop Loverde concluded the ceremony by telling Father Mosimann, “There’s one person you couldn’t thank, but I can, and that’s you.”

The faithful once again erupted with joyous applause.

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5 comments on this item

The church has too long of a narthex. Too many people sit way back from activity of the mass. A fan shaped church allows for more people being close to the altar.

I have had to sit in the rear of such churches ( cruciform or even old churches who have only two sections of pews) on several ocassions and find that I, who pays close attention and is actively involved by saying the responses and singing is easily distracted by noise, people coughing,kids crying etc. I can imagine hiow many people are not paying attention. Wasn't Vatican II's idea to bring more people closer to the action?

Enjaye, the term you're looking for is "nave". The narthex is the gathering space (under the balcony, in the case of a traditional layout) before you actually enter the church proper. Vatican II actually says nothing about the shape of a church. The active participation envisioned by the Council (which I'm assuming is what you mean by "action"), is less of an expressive, physical action than it is an impressive, spiritual action. I.e. One can be physically present right next to the altar and still not be "spiritually present" in terms of understanding and appreciating what's really happening in the Mass, and uniting themselves to Jesus's sacrifice.

I for one am very happy about the return to the cruciform architecture. It is a reminder of the theological significance of the Church as the Body of Christ. This sense was unfortunately lost after Vatican II and replaced by felt banners and church "in the round."

While beautiful in many ways, nothing about this church seems to reflect the the liturgical reforms of Vatican II. From that one can only conclude that 'tradition" and the primary role of the clergy/presider was valued over the full and active participation of the laity.

agostinoa, to what liturgical reforms are you referring to from Vatican II? The document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concillium, says that the vernacular may be used, but that the principle language is still to be Latin. I am guessing most of the language use was English, so is that the reform you address? The liturgy document also said that Gregorian Chant was to have pride of place in the Church's music, but I am guessing there was not much chant at the Dedication Mass. Do you mean that reform? The document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, does not say hide the tabernacle in a closet down the hallway...and they clearly did not do that. Maybe that is the "reform" to which you speak? The liturgy document clearly indicates that the Eucharist is the main presence of Jesus Christ at the Mass, but also speaks of His presence in the Word of God, the priest, as well as the people gathered together. It looks like to me that the Word is given due respect at that beautiful ambo and that the priest is given sufficient respect at the chair. Of course, the people of God have plenty of seating and the ability to actively particpate in that beautiful nave. No, I know which reform you speak of now. You are concerned that the bishop was not facing ad orientum as the priests always have done, since the Vatican II documents said nothing about the priests turning around and facing the people. I guess you are right. They did fail to respect the reforms of Vatican II and have the priest facing east and leading the people in their worship of God. That is really good of you to notice and point out that they are failing to keep a tradition of the Church that goes way back and has not been changed by a council document, and properly keeps the priest in his place of leading us in our worship as an alter Christus, and we the Body of Christ keeping us in our place as a people called to worship God, focus on our sanctification, and love our neighbor as ourself. Good call!

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