One year ago on October 24, 2010 we dedicated our parish church. The ritual was rich in meaning. I vividly remember when Janette Strand, our choir director, first greeted the standing-room-only assembly with the words “Welcome to St. Juan Diego Catholic Church!” Spontaneous applause erupted and I was overcome with emotion. I could barley sing the opening hymn because my voice was quivering. That moment was the culmination of so much hard work and sacrifice on the parts of way too many people to mention by name. But I need to acknowledge a few.
As we celebrate our first year anniversary this weekend I want to thank Kathy Yee, without whom I could never have been successful in my role as pastor. Her organizational skills and pastoral heart was integral in creating the parish and building the church. Brian Jackson and the building committee represented all the parishioners well as we worked with architects, builders and consultants. Brian’s architectural expertise, artistic talent, and his gentle-but-firm negotiating style allowed us to represent our interests in a respectful, Christian manner. Mary Jo Gregoire with Wanda Schwab and the Pastoral Council – not to mention representatives of all our parish organizations – helped us transition into the new building in a smooth and efficient manner.
Our liturgies and building procedures are so smooth and graceful now that I almost forget all the work it took to set up for Mass in a gym every Sunday. We had amazing liturgies there, but I (and the set up crew, sound crew, choir, etc.) am very happy those days are over. Praying in a beautiful space (designed by Merryman Barnes Architects with the advice of our Liturgical Consultant, John Buscemi and built by The Grant Company) has allowed for me, and all of us, to experience a richer liturgical spirituality.
All of the meetings – from daily Mass, to RCIA and organizational meetings – have moved from the rectory (my residence) to the church. Its nice to have a little more privacy, but I miss some of the personal friendliness that such a casual gathering space allowed.
This weekend we light our dedication candles and thank God for the gift of St. Juan Diego Catholic Church. May the Holy Spirit enlighten us to discern our mission for the future (which the Pastoral Council is currently discerning), may the life and love of Jesus flow through each person who comes to our church, and may our community be a blessing to the entire neighborhood.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. John Kerns