Church marks century since consecration

Renee Gamela

One hundred years ago, St. Joseph’s Church received the indelible mark of consecration. 

On Sunday, parishioners packed St. Joseph-St. Patrick Church in Utica, N.Y., to recreate the Jan. 26, 1908, ceremony and mark the anniversary. 

Twelve consecration candles on the church’s exterior walls were lit to represent the 12 Apostles. It was the visible sign that the church building has been consecrated, parish leaders said. 

Holy water was sprinkled over the congregation, and incense filled the corners of the church. Candles were lit to spell out the word “Jesus” in Latin, as well as “Alpha” and “Omega” — the beginning and the end. 

“It is a mark of great significance when a church is consecrated,” said the Most Rev. James M. Moynihan, bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse, N.Y. “It was a mark of great stewardship for the pastor of 100 years ago to be out of debt.” 

Moynihan was the main celebrant Sunday. 

Consecration raises a church to a higher order, and sets it aside for a special blessing, said the Rev. Richard Dellos, pastor of the church. In order to receive the designation, a church must be debt free and have permission from the Vatican. 

People snapped photographs during the celebration where more than 20 clergy and deacons participated. Many wore buttons in honor of Blessed Mother Marianne Cope, who was beatified in 2005 by the Vatican. St. Joseph’s is Cope’s home parish. 

St. Joseph’s Church opened in 1841 to serve the German immigrant population, and 67 years later it was consecrated. In 1965, St. Joseph’s Church merged with St. Patrick’s Church. 

Michael and Bridget Parisi brought their children Luke, 10, and Claire, 9, to the 100th anniversary Sunday. 

St. Joseph-St. Patrick Church is Bridget Parisi’s home parish where she made all her sacraments. She called it a privilege to be part of the celebration. 

“I think I speak for everyone,” Bridget Parisi said of her family, “we feel very proud.”

“It’s a once in a lifetime occasion,” her husband said. 

Claire noted it might be possible for some to see such an event again. 

“If you live over 100 it could be twice,” Claire said as her parents laughed. 

Joyce Schmidt also calls the church home. She teaches religious education there and has been a parishioner since her baptism. 

Schmidt said it is difficult to put her emotions into words about the anniversary. 

“It’s overwhelming, and a very emotional day,” she said, “a very happy time.” 

Schmidt said that her “heart is here in this church.” 

“Everybody is welcome to the church of Mother Marianne.”