COLORADO SPRINGS. Proclaiming that “the moment has come — finally!” Holy Cross Father Ron Raab, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Colorado Springs, swung open the church’s giant, handmade doors May 23 and a crowd of more than 200 people on hand for the church’s rededication streamed in for their first look at the renovated church.
“I feel so lifted up, and empowered, filled with the beauty of the people who made this happen,” Father Raab said. “Thank you. I am so invested with the place, its history, and being involved in an effort that will make this church last another 100 years.”
As the crowd took their seats, they did their best to take in the many changes that had been made to the nearly 100-year-old church since it was closed for renovation almost a year ago. Several parishioners shed tears as they gazed at the contemporary and revitalized worship space, dotted with artwork by Father Raab and others.
The space is dominated by great arching timber beams that support a ceiling two stories high. Crystalline lighting radiates down in cascading clusters of hand-blown glass globes. More hand-blown glass holds candles aloft. A huge altar with inset metal-worked crosses reflects the woodwork throughout the new church.
“It is just so beautiful,” said Jacques and Joanna Popiel, long-time parishioners, as they gazed upward at the ceilings, the new windows and all wood floors.
During the rededication, which lasted over two hours, Bishop Sheridan blessed the new altar with Oil of Chrism and each corner of the church with Holy Water.
Unbeknownst to most, Father Raab had carried in a small treasure chest containing a relic of St. André Bessette, a religious brother who became known as the miracle worker of the Congregation of Holy Cross. During the Mass, Bishop Sheridan placed the chest in a small niche in the altar, along with an empty bottle of Holy Water from 1897 “which comes from my grandfather’s family,” said Father Raab.
After Mass, participants gathered for food in the old school gym, which has been used as the worship space for nearly a year.
“The reaction was just spectacular,” said Father Raab. “People were stunned at the beauty of what they were seeing. The hand-blown glass, the furniture and altar are all just wonderful, and all the craftspeople who created them are local. The metalsmith who made the tiny brass crosses that mark the ends of every pew and in the altar is local. The pews and altar are made by a local woodworker.”
“The more than four-year process of it has been beautiful,” Father Raab continued. “The engineers, finance people, all the local artists came forward, and it was all given to the community. My role was to open the door to the possibility.”
“The restoration of Sacred Heart Church is beautifully done,” said Bishop Sheridan. “I add my own voice to those parishioners who told me that they found the ‘new’ church to be breathtaking.”
Sacred Heart’s Mass schedule is as follows: 8 a.m. Monday through Friday; 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 7:30, 9 and 11:30 a.m. on Sundays. For more information, visit the parish’s website at www.tricommunity.org.