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Decades of prayer culminate in dedication

Our Lady of the Rosary’s new church ‘feels like’ God’s house

 

GREENVILLE—Our Lady of the Ro­sary Church has come a long way since parishioners first attended Mass 64 years ago in the living room of a small white house off Augusta Road.

From 1952 to 1955, the handful of Upstate Catholics gathered weekly at the house, which also served as the parish rectory. In 1955, they moved into a larger space, con­verting a former warehouse on the church grounds into a worship spot.

They would continue wor­shipping there for 60 years.

On Nov. 26, led by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, more than 400 filed into a gleaming new church a short distance from a wooden cross marking the spot where those initial Masses were celebrated.

All photos by Nill Silver: Members of Our Lady of the Rosary celebrate the dedication of their new church on Nov. 26.

All photos by Nill Silver: Members of Our Lady of the Rosary celebrate the dedication of their new church on Nov. 26.

Father Dwight Longenecker, then administrator and soon-to-be pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary, concelebrated the dedication along with several priests from Greenville-area parishes.

“This building is a culmi­nation of 60 years of prayer and preaching of the Catholic faith,” Father Longenecker said shortly before the start of the celebration.

Parishioners handed the church plans and keys to Bishop Guglielmone, who then presented them to Father Lon­genecker before the bishop led the procession inside.

“Use them well,” Bishop Gug­lielmone told the pastor.

In a beautiful and fitting homily, the bishop reminded the congregation of their new building’s vital role in strengthening and nurturing their faith.

“We build a magnificent place such as this primarily so that people can come here in one way or another and find the presence of God,” he said in his homily. “The presence of God will be found in this place in so many ways; in the word of God, in the Blessed Sacra­ment — the very presence of Jesus Christ.”

olr-peace-webThat presence will also be experienced in all those who gather in this place, he said.

Following the homily, Bishop Guglielmone placed relics in the altar, including those of an unknown martyr of the early Church, St. Benedict of Nursia, St. John Neumann, St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Maria Gore­tti. He then anointed the altar and walls of the church.

The Romanesque structure was designed by Greene and Associates Architects and built by Cely Construction Co., both of Greenville. The cost of the project was around $5 million.

In addition to the sanctuary, the church’s lower level will include a shrine to the Divine Mercy and a columbarium. Also, 42 stained-glass windows salvaged from a decommis­sioned Catholic church in Pittsfield, Mass., and set by the famed Wilburn Burnham studios in Boston, have been refurbished and placed in the new church. Among them is a depiction of St. Kateri Tekak­witha, the first Native Ameri­can to be canonized.

Pope St. John Paul II beati­fied St. Kateri in 1980 and she was canonized by Pope Bene­dict XVI in 2012.

By the look on his face, Christian LeBlanc, one of two principal architects for the new church, was clearly enjoy­ing the moment.

olr-embrace-web“It’s hard to believe it’s real,” he said while standing with the large crowd gathered out­side the doors.

LeBlanc, who is now a mem­ber of St. Mary in downtown Greenville, said his family at­tended Our Lady of the Rosary 50 years ago and he went to grade school there. That his­tory, along with his affinity for traditional architecture in church buildings, led him to become involved in the project.

“The church is breathtak­ing,” said Susan Case. She and her husband moved to Green­ville last June.

“To be here and to be involved in this parish and the new church is truly wonderful,” she said. “When you walk in, you feel like you are in God’s house.”

Edgar Paz moved to Green­ville from Florida 15 years ago. His family fell in love with Our Lady of the Rosary long before the new church was built.

“We’re glad it’s finally here,” Paz said. “It’s beautiful.”

Michel Azmaly moved here from Israel in the mid-80s and has been a parishioner for 20 years. He said he hopes the new building will bring more people into the faith.

“I’m happy I’m here,” Azma­ly said. “Father Longenecker has brought a lot of energy to the parish. He is rich in all aspects of his duties.”

Bishop Guglielmone an­nounced to enthusiastic ap­plause toward the end of the Mass that Father Longenecker, who had served as parish administrator for the past six years, had been appointed pastor.

The old worship space will take on another role soon, when it is converted into a reception hall.

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