Four-year-old Cohen Wimmer took a gold sharpie and carefully wrote his name on the black surface. He was one of the youngest of the many parishioners of St. Mary in Melrose to sign their names on the refurbished tabernacle from the old church that will be built into the parish’s new church.
Parishioners are being invited after Masses Feb. 8-9 and 15-16 to sign their names on the tabernacle, which will be a permanent part of the new tabernacle configuration. It will be centered in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament located behind the altar in the new church.
“I think it’s a beautiful way to memorialize all of the people who were here in the parish for this process and for the building of the new church,” said Ken Griesemer, liturgical design consultant for the project. “Because the Eucharist is so central for us in our lives, to be memorialized so close to where the Eucharist is preserved is a wonderful opportunity.”
These “signing weekends” are part of a number of events being planned by the building events committee to get parishioners excited about the church building project and make it more immediate and real for them, according to Father Marv Enneking, pastor of St. Mary Parish and the parishes in Greenwald, Meire Grove and Spring Hill.
“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we have them sign the tabernacle?’ Then all their names would be forever encased in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel,” he said. “We as the body of Christ have built this, and they have been an important part of the construction of this sacred space, so if they sign the tabernacle, their spirit will continue to always be present.”
Once the tabernacle is installed in the church, in a nine-foot tower in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the names will not be visible.
“In the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, the Church tells us that the place of reservation [of the Blessed Sacrament] should be truly noble, prominent, readily visible, beautifully decorated and suitable for prayer,” Griesemer said as he spoke during the homily Feb. 9.
Those are the criteria that were used by the design team and the architects to create a very special place of reservation for the Eucharist in the new building, he said.
“It will be a beautiful, intimate and very special environment with the tabernacle centrally located as a sign of the importance of the reserved sacrament,” he added.
Work on the new church — which is located on Kraft Drive S.E., south of the parish cemetery and a few blocks from the existing church — continues during the winter months.
Workers have completed the woodwork inside as far as they can, Father Enneking said, and the next step is getting the concrete in. Woodworking and sheetrock can be finished after that.
The project is on schedule and is expected to be completed by next winter.