Proclaiming the event a “booster shot of hope to the entire archdiocese,” Archbishop Timothy Dolan dedicated the expanded Church of the Holy Spirit in Cortlandt on Saturday afternoon, March 5.
Dolan, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, celebrated the tradition-rich Mass of dedication for a standing-room-only congregation at the Crompond Road church. He limited his homily to a few brief observations because, as he put it, the 90-minute ceremony was “a beautiful homily in itself.”
Highlights of the dedication rite included anointing of the altar, incensing of the altar and the building with clouds of sweet-smelling smoke, full lighting of the altar and the building after opening rituals in subdued light and the placement in the altar of a relic (a bone fragment) of Saint Zeno, a fourth-century bishop of Verona, Italy.
The new structure is an expanded, worship-oriented version of an all-purpose 1976 building that for years served as sacred and secular space. In addition to a larger altar area it features numerous stained-glass windows, large mosaic Stations of the Cross and, for the first time in the 45-year history of the parish, traditional pews with kneelers. (Worshippers previously sat in rows of chairs and stood for much of the Mass.)
Noting the parish’s reputation for being somewhat unconventional, Dolan said that, with its expanded sanctuary, Holy Spirit was bucking a nationwide trend of downsizings and mergers. “We’re going the other way,” he said. “Thanks be to God.”
The archbishop commended the perseverance, patience and generosity of the many people who made the expanded church possible. “I see in your faces a look of pride, ownership, joy – and,” he added with the humor for which he is noted, “relief.”
Father Thomas Kiely, the pastor, who received a hug from the archbishop and a standing ovation from the congregation, described the expanded church as “an expression of our faith.” Those receiving his special thanks included James Hundt, architect, for “his work and vision,” MAC Construction & Remodeling, the contractor, David Maddox, director of the Archdiocesan Building Commission, Holy Spirit’s Building Committee and “all the parishioners. … Your patience, sacrifices, prayers – and good humor – made this day possible.”