“Celebrating The Living Light of the World”

GREENWICH—The reconsecration of St. Michael the Archangel was celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano marking a festive and joyful occasion to embark on a new chapter in the church’s history.

The much-anticipated day followed four years of planning and extensive renovation.

“The church is a building like no other,” Bishop Caggiano said. “It is a sacred space for you and I to offer our heart and mind and will. You and I have come here to bless this beautiful space that has been made possible by your extraordinary generosity and the labor of many,” he added.

The renovation project started with a simple assessment of repairs that were needed at the church including the roof, mechanicals and carpeting. There was also a desire to make additions and previous renovations, over the past five decades, more cohesive.

“Since Jesus Christ is light, I wanted to bring light into the church,” said Pastor Father Ian Jeremiah. “I believe we achieved that in the design of our church. I want this church to be the living light of the world.”

Indeed, the reimagined driveway entrance to the church beckons not only parishioners to the church campus at 469 North Street but also the community to its light-filled entryway and contemplative place of worship where the new entryway arch, is an homage to the arch of the angel’s wing of the church’s patron saint, St. Michael the Archangel, said Sue Stone, a trustee of the church and a member of the building committee.

The We Stand with Christ campaign enabled the six-million dollar project to become a reality that includes an expanded community hall and additional meeting space. “There’s a lot more meeting space for ministry activities,” Stone said.

Ryan Salvatore of Ryan Salvatore Architects, who along with Neil Hauck Architects, LLC worked on the renovation project, explained at the beginning of Mass that hours of research ensured that the renovations would reflect the intentions of simplicity and dignity, that the original architect had in mind.

“(The changes) will not only serve as a bright beacon for the worship activities and beyond in this space but also as a primary gathering space for fellowship in this community before and after mass,” Salvatore said.

Prior to the Mass the bishop addressed the congregation and explained that the reconsecration Mass would be expressed through the ancient rituals of the church dating back to St. Ambrose to the 4th century of the church’s life.

At the beginning of Mass, the bishop blessed water and sprinkled the Holy Water on the congregation, the walls of the church and the altar.

“May God the Father of all mercies dwell in this house of prayer and by the grace of the Holy Water, cleanse us who are the temple where He dwells,” he prayed.

The Lectionary was presented to the bishop, who prayed upon it and said, “May the word of God resound always in this building, to open for you the mystery of Christ and to bring about your salvation in the Church.“

Following the anointing of the altar and lighting of incense, Bishop Caggiano prayed: “My dear friends let our prayers rise oh Lord like incense in your sight and as this house is filled with a pleasing fragrance so let your church be fragrant with the aroma of Christ.”

The altar was then transformed in appearance and prepared for the sacrifice of the mass with the adornment of an altar cloth, altar cross, candles and beautiful white floral arrangements.

The barnwood rear wall of the altar was unchanged in the renovation.

“We chose to keep the rear wall (of the altar) because it represented a lot of the simplicity of the original structure,” Stone said. The crucifix adorning the wall also did not change and an important artifact was added to the altar during the Mass.
“Every altar has relics and here in your parish it has been chosen that St. Celcia’s relics, the patron saint of music accompany you in every sacrifice,” Bishop Caggiano said, before the angelic voices of the music ministry and congregation accompanied by the new organ and sound system in the church filled the space with the antiphon, The Bodies of the Saints.

“It’s a very uniting time because we have been waiting to come back together and now, we have a new space to come back to,” said Stone, adding that opening the church at end of the pandemic is quite meaningful.

“There is lot to be grateful for and to mourn,” she said. “And we are happy to have the space to do that.”

St. Timothy’s Chapel, a part of the St. Michael the Archangel parish community, was also renovated to be handicap accessible. Bishop Caggiano blessed the chapel on the eve of the reconsecration of St. Michael the Archangel.

In addition to the newly renovated spaces, the parish’s website was also updated with a new look and a new logo of St. Michael the Archangel with a sword, shield and wings.

“May this chapter of blessing this sacred space also be a time when you and I put our hands to the blessed plow so that all of our brothers and sisters throughout our diocese and throughout this broken world may find what we have here through our charity, generosity, dedication, prayer, by the offer of service that you or I can give. No Christian can ever be satisfied with simply the community in which he or she lives until the day comes when everyone of every race, language, orientation and way of life, is together in unity and peace to serve the Lord share the prosperity of this world and walk together hand in hand to the glory of everlasting life.”

The bishop instructed the congregation to love each other and bring the world to Jesus Christ. “You have accomplished much,” he said. “We have still much to do together.”

Story by Kathy-Ann Gobin
Photos by Michelle Babyak