Anniversary year concludes with altar dedication

CARY - Parishioners of St. Michael the Archangel marked a special milestone in the 25-year history of their current church building, an event they have celebrated this past year. Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama blessed a new altar Aug. 9 and helped parishioners reflect on the altar’s significance in transforming their lives.

An honor guard with eight members of the Knights of Columbus led the opening procession for the Mass, assisted by Deacons Glenn Dudek and Patrick Pelkey. Also present were Father Michael Burbeck, pastor and recently appointed vicar general for the diocese, Father John De Guzman, parochial vicar, Monsignor John Wall, pastor emeritus, and other diocesan priests.

In his homily, Bishop Luis reflected on finding “something new” in celebration of the new altar.

“The word of God and the celebration of the Eucharist always bring something new to our hearts,” said Bishop Luis. “How can we discover in every Eucharist and receive something new?

"This new altar is beautiful, but we need a new marble in our own altar -- in our hearts. We need to be open every day to learn each day more about the language of love. We need to be immersed a little bit more each day about the language of love,” Bishop Luis said.

The bishop invited those in attendance to ask God to consecrate their hearts to him as they witnessed the consecration of the new altar.

Standing with his arms outstretched over the altar, Bishop Luis offered a prayer of dedication that highlighted how the Old Testament figures Noah, Abraham and Moses built altars to pray and offer sacrifice to God and how Christ, through his sacrifice on the cross, allowed for a new covenant to be made between God and humanity.

Bishop Luis prayed that the altar “might be a table where people may gain new strength of spirit for new paths ahead and be the center of our praise and thanksgiving to God, with Christ, the High Priest and living Altar.”

After the altar was anointed with sacred Chrism, it was adorned with an altar cloth and candles. As the Bishop prayed, “May the light of Christ shine upon the table of this altar and may those who share the Lord’s supper shine with his light,” Deacon Glenn Dudek lit the candles.

At the end of Mass, Father Michael, who has led the anniversary celebrations that included the renovation of the sanctuary and new altar, expressed how grateful he was to the parish community for their continued support.

Father Michael also recognized and thanked Monsignor Wall, who became pastor of St. Michael in 1995 and served for 10 years in that role. The current church building was dedicated Sept. 29, 1996.

“My great joy was being pastor at St. Michael's during the time of its relocation on High House Road and during the addition of our fine St. Michael's School. I especially love the diversity of our congregation,” said Monsignor Wall.

St. Michael remains a very diverse parish. Following the celebration, a range of parishioners of cultures and ages from senior citizens to families with young children stayed to greet Bishop Luis and thank him for his presence at the event.

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Photos by Bob Witchger.