By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — When Bishop Thomas Zinkula first visited St. Paul the Apostle Church last year, he told the pastor, Father Tony Herold, that it was “nice.”
“It’s confession time. I felt it was bland and tired and now look at it all dressed up,” Bishop Zinkula said as he rededicated the church March 22 after a much-needed renovation.
In his homily, the bishop referred to the three sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. He said the church building itself would go through a similar process following his homily.
The Mass began with the sprinkling rite, which reminds us of our baptism. During confirmation, individuals are anointed with oil; the altar, this time, would be anointed. “The anointing with chrism will set the altar apart, make it holy, and consecrate it.” The walls of the church would be anointed, too. Incense would be used, which symbolizes reverence.
The newly baptized receive a candle to represent the light of Christ, so a candle would be lit in the church to keep Christ’s presence in our hearts and the world. As a newly baptized person receives a white garment, the bishop said, the altar would be dressed. This leads to the third sacrament.
“All of these initial rites have been directed toward the Eucharist. A church building is built or remodeled and then washed and anointed so that we have a place to celebrate Mass. Baptism and confirmation find their completion in the Eucharist.”
Following the Litany of the Saints, Bishop Zinkula placed a relic of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton underneath the altar and closed the tile. He poured chrism oil onto the altar and rubbed it in. The bishop and Fr. Herold went to separate areas of the church and anointed the walls with oil. A censer was placed on the altar in which incense was burned. Deacons Frank Agnoli and Robert Shaw walked through the church with censers called thuribles, from which the smoke of incense rose. The altar was vested and the lighting of the altar and the church followed.
At the end of Mass, Fr. Herold thanked parishioners for attending the Mass and for their patience during construction. “If you like it, let me know. If you don’t, keep your mouth shut.” The congregation laughed.
Renovations began in November; the parish celebrated Mass in the adjacent Denning Hall, said Michelle Harrington, director of parish life. Some work is still underway, but Fr. Herold said the goal is to have the church ready for Holy Week.
Harrington said the building’s last big renovation happened in the 1970s. This renovation gives the church building a more Gothic, traditional look. New flooring replaced carpeting and a handicap-accessible ramp has been added to the sanctuary. Other new items: pews, altar, tabernacle, lighting and sound system, Blessed Sacrament chapel, baptismal font, an adjustable ambo, and paint which returned the church’s interior to its original colors. Stained glass windows have also been restored. “It is elegance and simplicity,” Fr. Herold said.
“This was a beautiful celebration for all the sacrifice this parish has gone through to get to this point,” said parishioner Mary Adams. “It was such a joy to celebrate this special day in our home for God.”
Gretchen Cluff said the renovations were “stunning. The ceiling (painted in blue) is like the heavens opening up.”
St. Paul the Apostle Catholic School renovations are also part of the $2.5 million capital improvement campaign that kicked off in October 2016, Fr. Herold noted. Electrical work got underway in the school last summer. This summer, classrooms will have more electrical outlets installed, Harrington said. Currently, the classrooms have just two outlets each. New wiring will be done throughout the campus.
Extensive renovations to the restrooms are winding down. Work on a new entrance with more security is expected to be completed before the end of this school year. Work has begun on installation of an elevator to access all three levels of the school.
Fr. Herold said the most important classroom for students is the church. It is the liturgy and sacraments. “Our new classroom is ready.”