By Celine Klosterman
CLINTON — Nineteen years after Prince of Peace Parish formed, observed Father Tony Herold, it has a church that bears its name.
“Let us rejoice,” the parish’s pastor said at the beginning of the church’s dedication Mass March 14. Roughly 800 congregants, who’d nearly filled the church a half-hour before Mass began, broke into applause as their shepherd began to speak. “This is the day the Lord has made.”
The sun streamed through skylights in the large, open nave as parishioners, well-wishers and about 40 priests and deacons took part in the celebration, on a date Bishop Martin Amos said had become a solemnity for Prince of Peace. In the church’s gathering space, 75 ribbons with 2,000 signatures hung from a pole, designed as a way for people to show support for the new place of worship.
“This structure is the place where the holy people, the temple of God built of living stones, gather to hear the word of God, to pray together, to receive sacraments and above all to celebrate the Eucharist,” said Bishop Amos in his homily. He presided at the Mass, and Fr. Herold and Father Thom Hennen, Prince of Peace’s parochial vicar, concelebrated.
Each time people enter the church, they pass a baptismal font that will remind them they “are adopted by God the father and invited into the father’s house, a house of prayer,” Bishop Amos said.
Each time lectors read at the new ambo, “God is revealed to us through the teaching of the Apostles,” he said.
And each time people gather at the altar, he said, “they will be fed and nourished for the journey.” That journey isn’t over for Prince of Peace parishioners, Bishop Amos said.
“The good news is you have a church. The bad news is it’s not finished — and I’m not talking about the mortgage,” he joked. Total cost for the church and offices is about $7.1 million, said Fr. Herold.
Catholics continue to be called to live God’s word. “The church will not be complete until the kingdom is complete,” Bishop Amos said.
Parishioners then recited the litany of the saints, adding the names of Ss. Irenaeus, Patrick and Boniface, whom current and former Catholic churches in Clinton were named after. Two of those 19th-century churches still stand; St. Patrick was torn down in 2005.
St. Mary will be torn down, too. Sacred Heart will continue serving Prince of Peace schools and religious education program.
Following the litany, Bishop Amos and priests anointed the church’s altar and walls with chrism.
Incense was burned, and then candles were lit.
Several priests who’d served Prince of Peace later distributed Communion. Afterward, Fr. Herold voiced thanks for the service of Father Ron Young, who’d been pastor when Prince of Peace Parish formed from a merger of five Clinton parishes in 1990. The latter priest received cheers and a standing ovation.
Fr. Herold then reflected on the sprinkling of holy water, anointing of oil and burning of incense — rituals used to dedicate and consecrate the new church. “We watered it, we greased it, we smoked it; now we can use it!” he said, to laughter.
“I feel very blessed to be here at this moment in our parish’s history,” Fr. Hennen told The Catholic Messenger.
Seeing parishioners all gathered at one Mass was powerful, he added. When they were spread apart at different Masses and churches, it was as if the parish “had a soul but not a body,” he said. The church “is overpoweringly beautiful,” said Denise Laufenberg, choir member.
“I think it’s very nice. It fits the area very well,” said Rick Aquilani of the building, which has rural surroundings and stands on Clinton’s west edge. “It’s definitely not a Wal-Mart church.”
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Lou Egging, who like Aquilani belonged to Prince of Peace’s faith facilities task force. “It’s nice to be here.”
Prince of Peace parishioners had worked toward the dedication day for years. After Father Tony Herold became pastor in 1999, parishioners and an architectural firm began evaluating which of Clinton’s Catholic churches would be best for future use. St. Boniface and St. Mary were chosen, according to Prince of Peace’s dedication booklet.
But through discussion, parishioners determined renovating and maintaining two 19th-century churches would cost at least as much as building a new church. Also, they realized a diocesan priest shortage meant only one priest may someday be available to serve the parish.
Eventually, Prince of Peace decided to buy property for a new church. The first capital campaign was launched in 2004, and $3.5 million was pledged. Twenty-two acres of land were bought and, in 2005, blessed.
A second capital campaign was launched in April 2007, in which $2.1 million was pledged.
Groundbreaking took place in July 2007. Prince of Peace originally hoped to dedicate the church by Christmas 2008, but rain, cold and snow kept the parish from doing so.