December 25, 2013
St. John Neumann Catholic Church dedicated its newly-expanded, beautified church with a Mass on December 18 at 7 p.m. in Sunbury. Over 1,000 members of the parish community along with 15 priests and 11 deacons from around the Diocese of Columbus gathered for the Rite of Dedication.
The evening began with a greeting by Most Reverend Frederick F. Campbell, D.D., Ph.D., Bishop of Columbus, followed by a traditional procession to the church.
Architectural Plans were presented to the Bishop by Nikki Wildman of M+A Architects on behalf of the Parish for the Diocesan records. Keys to the building were presented by project manager Greg Keener of Elford Construction on behalf of all those who labored to build the church. Business Manager, Bob Scott represented the parish in the presentation to the Bishop. Pastor, Father David Sizemore unlocked the church as Bishop Campbell invited the people to enter.
The choir, led by Chip Stalter and accompanied by pianist Pam Hamann, a brass quartet and flute, sang as the entire congregation entered, followed by 4th degree Knights of Columbus in full regalia and ministers of the Mass. All were in awe by the beauty of the mosaic and painted art, statues and icons of the space.
As a sign and remembrance of our baptism, the people were blessed with holy water. Scripture readings from Nehemiah, the Psalms, Hebrews and John were the inspiration for Bishop Campbell’s Homily. “The church is not a building, but its people”, Bishop said. Reminding us, too, that “Jesus is always the future of the Church.”
The Profession of Faith was then recited by the people followed by the Litany of Saints led by Stalter. The Bishop with previous and current priests of St. John Neumann parish: Father Pat Toner, Father James Walter, Father David Sizemore and Father Michael Gribble took part in anointing the new walls of the church and Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Our prayers and thanksgiving to God for our blessings of the expanded building were represented by incense rising to heaven.
The lighting of the Altar candles and church began the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The parish Building Committee Chair Sherry Whitacre, along with her husband Shane and their four children, presented the bread and wine to be used for Holy Communion.
After Mass, Father Sizemore shared his gratitude for all the many who were involved in this project. Including but not limited to the Long Range Planning Committee, Capital Campaign, Liturgy Committee and Parish Staff. “Thank you to all of our families who have contributed to our building campaigns for the last ten years. Your sacrifice and generosity is greatly appreciated.” Sizemore acknowledged the Building Committee which has met weekly – and sometimes daily over the past couple of years. The intention for the Mass was for Diocesan Building Superintendent, Patrick Davis, who passed away the Sunday before the event after a brief illness.
Sizemore continued, “Not only did we expand and beautify our church for our current parishioners, we also want to provide space for all the people who live in our neighborhoods who have yet to meet Jesus, who have forgotten Him and stopped coming to church or for those who will move into this area.
“As a staff and parish we will now begin strategic SPIRITUAL planning. Together the parish will determine ways to build the kingdom of God, bringing more souls to him through our multi-year focus of building Eucharistic Adoration, small faith sharing groups, strengthening marriage and family life, focusing on youth and young adults and growing opportunities for outreach … both to the materially poor and the poor in spirit. The Lord has great plans for this parish.”
Attendees were invited to the Faith & Family Center to end the evening with light refreshments, celebration and fellowship.
Transepts have been added to the structure originally built in 2004 and will now seat over 1,100 to accommodate the growing parish, founded in 1977. The interior of the church has been transformed to depict the beauty of our faith. The focal point is our Lord in the tabernacle on an ornate carved wood altar of repose, obtained from Father Kevin Lutz at the Holy Family Museum in Columbus. Beautiful stained glass windows, murals, stations and statues feature the lives of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the saints. Visitors of St. John Neumann parish will be able to learn the story of Christianity through biblical pictures and symbols throughout the fully-renovated church. An immersion baptismal font has been added and awaits our largest RCIA class preparing for the Easter Vigil. A Cloister Walkway now connects the Church, Eucharistic Adoration Chapel, Faith & Family Center and Parish Office buildings.
All are welcome to visit the new church for Mass held weekly on Saturday at 4 p.m., Sunday at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 5 p.m. and daily on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m. A church open house will be February 16, 2014, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for anyone interesting in viewing and learning more about the building’s art and symbols of the faith.