NORTH AUGUSTA — Our Lady of Peace Church was transformed Feb. 22 with its rededication by Bishop Rob-ert J. Baker and the unveiling of its completed renovations.
During the rite, Bishop Baker blessed the church and its members with holy water. With the help of two parishioners, he then placed the relics of Sts. John Newman, Maria Goretti and Charles Borromeo in the altar. The altar and four designated places along the wall of the church were carefully anointed with chrism.
As a way to signify the altar as a place of sacrifice, Bishop Baker burned incense there, then handed the thurible to the deacon who censed the rest of the church.
The last part of the rite, before the liturgy of the Eucharist, included the lighting of the altar and church candles. Parishioners representing different ethnic communities processed to the altar in their native dress. The candles they carried were carefully placed in designated places around the altar.
“Light of Christ, shine forth in the church and bring all nations to the fullness of truth,” the bishop said as he handed the deacon a lighted candle.
Our Lady of Peace Church has roots that date back to the 1940s. Since that time, the church moved into its current building in 1988 and has more than 730 families. Part of the community’s enduring history is Our Lady of Peace School, established in 1957 and originally run by Franciscan sisters. It continues to be a place where children can excel both academically and spiritually.
“Today, we celebrate the achievement of a promise made when the church was first completed, to add sacred images to it,” said Father Sandy McDonald, pastor of Our Lady of Peace Church.
The most visible religious piece is the icon triptych by Inspired Artisan of Milwaukee, Wis., depicting Christ as the teacher in its center. The wood case that was completed only days before the dedication was masterfully done by Gary Garner from the Images of the Cross in Augusta, Ga. Father McDonald commented on how well Garner worked under the pressure of getting it completed on time.
“After fours years of planning, fund raising, and crafting, the church is complete. There are so many people to thank,” said the pastor.
He recognized the architect, Bill Huges; the liturgical consultant, John Buscemi; the R.B. Wright Construction Company; and all the artisans who contributed sacred images and furnishings for the church. Father McDonald’s own father made the ambry.
Parishioners also shared their talent with the parish. Tony Carr Jr. and Roy Kibler crafted the candle sconces while Vern Fernandez made the reliquary. The processional cross was designed by Father Damien Higgins, an orthodox priest from Augusta.
After thanking all the people who donated to the parish improvement campaign, Father McDonald acknowledged the church design committee, chaired by Dan Smith, and parish improvement campaign steering committee, led by George Connaughton, for their enthusiasm, guidance and leadership in the endeavor.
Besides the obvious layout changes in the church, earlier renovations have been completed as well. In the beginning of the campaign, the school playground and kitchen were upgraded, the library roof was replaced, a kitchen was built in the annex and a bell tower was added to the church, along with the landscaping project, Way of Peace.
Bishop Baker called the renovation a labor of love and thanked everyone who had helped to make the celebration possible.
“This church is built so we can bring God’s great love that flows through the sacraments with us into the world,” the bishop said. “We must become a dwelling place of God in his Spirit as this building is a dwelling place of God. It exists so our soul will be a glowing light of our Lord.”