Cardinal Rigali blesses relocated
tabernacle and new outdoor
Stations of the Cross

By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T

HATFIELD – May 30 was a banner day for St. Maria Goretti Parish, Hatfield. Cardinal Justin Rigali, during a pastoral visit, celebrated the weekend vigil Mass and also blessed the church’s refurbished and relocated tabernacle and newly installed outdoor Stations of the Cross. During his homily the Cardinal emphasized that priest and people form one body in the Spirit, and it was evident that afternoon.

There was an enthusiastic body of worshippers for the Cardinal’s Mass, which included as concelebrants their pastor, Father Leonard N. Peterson, parochial vicar Father Andrew Brownholtz, former parochial vicars Fathers Brian Hennessey and Jeffrey Stecz, as well as other area clergy.

The tabernacle, which has been to the side of the 1,000-seat church which was dedicated in 1995, has been relocated to the honored place behind the altar.

“It looks like it has always been there,” Father Peterson said.

Working through the St. Jude Shop, the existing Italian marble and ambo were matched perfectly in the new reredos (altar screen), and the work is already paid in full through donations, the pastor noted.

The change in location of the tabernacle improves the focus of the church, said parishioner Patricia Conroy, a pastoral minister and sacristan for the parish, who was part of the committee that worked on the change. “I don’t think some people realized where the Blessed Sacrament was before this,” she said.

Not only does the new stonework match the altar and ambo, but ceramic mosaic stones in the reredos also complement the blue of the stained glass window, she noted.

The outdoor Stations that the Cardinal blessed are placed along a paved horseshoe-shaped path on the rim of a rainwater drainage basin near the church.

They were executed through a long-term Eagle Scout project by high school senior Gregory Fasick, a life-long member of St. Maria Goretti. It took about two years from concept to completion, he estimated.

Fasick had asked Father Peterson if he could suggest a project that would assist the parish, and the pastor told him outdoor Stations of the Cross were a dream of his. After coming up with a plan, Fasick worked through the religious goods firm Robert Francis to obtain the stations. The designs chosen were bronze, about 12 by 13 inches, mounted in Corian housings and placed on square aluminum poles about 7 1/2 feet apart. The total cost for each station was approximately $500.

It was decided the money could be raised by offering the inspanidual stations as memorials.

Fasick spoke at the weekend Masses about a year and a half ago, and all of the stations were subscribed to before the end of the day.

“I’m happy the way it turned out,” said Fasick, who received his Eagle Award because of the project. “I was happy to do something for the church that will last a long time, and it was good to meet the Cardinal. He confirmed me the last time he visited our church.”

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.