New church is blessed for St. Vincent de Paul
By Burnie Cook
The new sanctuary for St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Austin was dedicated with a special Mass celebrated by Bishop Joe Vásquez on Dec. 29. Many families, numbering more than 1,000 individuals, came out to celebrate the opening of the new church, which has been in the works for years.
St. Vincent de Paul Parish was founded in 1995 with 230 families and Father Daniel E. Garcia as pastor. The parish worshipped in the cafeteria at Deer Park Middle School in Northwest Austin for six years. In 2001, the parish moved to a multi-purpose building at 9500 Neenah Ave., which is near the intersection of Parmer and 620 in Northwest Austin. Now the parish has nearly 1,500 families; Father Garcia is the pastor and Father Ron Feather is the associate pastor. The parish grounds are adjacent to Holy Family Catholic School and St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School.
The gathering of parishioners and guests began in the multi-purpose building featuring a slide show of parish history and time-lapse footage of the construction of the new church from ground breaking to completion. In the building where they had worshipped for more than 10 years, Bishop Joe Vásquez greeted the congregation.
Representatives from Fisher Heck Architects and Rizzo Construction, Inc. who with liturgical design consultant Ken Griesemer designed and constructed the new church were introduced. The plans and keys for the new church were presented to the bishop who then handed them over to Father Garcia.
From there the crowd processed to the church where Father Garcia opened the doors to the public for the first time. Members of the crowd were excited to see the inside, some took deep breaths, and others walked with their eyes wide open, obviously impressed with the new church features such as the large entry way, cruciform baptismal font, wooden pews, altar and more.
Carol and Joe Loughran and their three daughters have been parishioners for six years. They were amazed by the new church and are excited about what it means for the growth of the parish. They are grateful to have such a beautiful place to worship and grow in their faith.
From the procession to the blessing of the altar and the tabernacle, the choir led the congregation through the nearly three-hour Mass.
Kevin McLaughlin, the cantor for the dedication Mass, and his wife Paula have been parishioners since 1998.
"As a music minister, I was very excited to be part of the liturgy that relied so heavily on music to support not only the worship but also the rites of the dedication itself," McLaughlin said.
After the Creed, the Litany of Saints was sung as the congregation kneeled. Then Bishop Vásquez placed relics of St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac beneath the altar, which he then anointed with sacred Chrism. The bishop and Fathers Garcia and Feather anointed the walls of the church with the holy oil.
"The altar is the central focus of this church. The altar represents Christ … He was anointed by the Holy Spirit
and sent to save the world. As the church proclaims, Jesus is the priest, the altar and the Lamb of Sacrifice," Bishop Vásquez said.
Sharon and James Reeves are very pleased with the new sanctuary. They see the meaningful and sacred touches, such as the stained glass rose window depicting the Holy Spirit above the new crucifix behind the altar and the Stations of the Cross, and they are proud to be a part of St. Vincent de Paul’s history and to take part in the dedication Mass.
"It [the new building] is icing on the cake," the couple agreed.
Mark Fair, a member of the parish Building Committee said the sense of closeness and welcoming is the hallmark of St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
"Throughout the building project the Building Committee received feedback regarding the importance of maintaining these attributes as the parish continued to grow and move into a new worship space. It was evident at the dedication event that the welcoming spirit of our parishioners made the day special for all those who attended," he said.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Father Garcia thanked all those involved in the building of the new church.
"I pray that this new sanctuary will always be a place where we gather as church to give glory and praise to God for all the good he has done for us," Father Garcia said.
In closing, Bishop Vásquez thanked Fathers Garcia and Feather and the parish for their hospitality.
"We continue to marvel at how great and loving our God is who chose to reveal himself in time and in human nature," the bishop said. "In this Year of Faith, may the joy of Mary, the Mother of God, who lovingly embraced Jesus Christ, be yours. I pray that your love for Christ will continue to grow so that you may become bearers of Good News."
St. Vincent de Paul Parish is located at 9500 Neenah Ave. in Austin. For Mass times, visit www.svdpparish.org or call (512) 255-1389.