At the Dedication of the rebuilt Sts Mary and Andrew Church, Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau assured faithful that in the rebuilding of this church, they did not provide a mere ‘quick fix’ on a cheap budget.
“We have provided a place of beauty suited to the purpose of worship for which it is intended,” said the Archbishop in his homily, November 5.
The Church of Sts Mary and Andrew was first dedicated July 28, 1973.
“That was the year and month of our National Independence. That was 50 years ago!” said the Archbishop.
He highlighted September 1, 2019, saw that original church building destroyed by the destructive force of Hurricane Dorian. The nature and the extent of the destruction was such that there was not one wall of the building left standing.
Archbishop Pinder said Elmer Bongon was able to recover the Blessed Sacrament in the ciborium in the rubble.
That ciborium has been in the Tabernacle of the Chapel of the Archbishop’s residence in Nassau for the past four years. It was returned to the church that day, November 5.
“That is but one sign the restoration, the re-building, and the renewed hope which this dedication means, not just for the local Catholic community, but for the Abaco Community as a whole,” the Archbishop said.
He said while he has had the occasion to dedicate several churches during his time as Archbishop, of all of them, “this one is unique!”
“This is the first time that I have to dedicate a church – rebuilt after being totally destroyed. This is a unique expression of renewed hope and commitment. It says, plainly, that destruction and devastation will not have the last word,” Archbishop Pinder said.
He said when it comes to dedication of a church, they are instructed that the first Scripture Reading for the occasion must be the words from the Book of Nehemiah (8:1–4, 5–6, 8–10) which was proclaimed earlier.
“There, Ezra the Priest is reading from the book of the law. His audience is men, women and children old enough to understand. It comes to the point where Ezra says to the people: ‘Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord is your strength.’ As we come to this moment in the post-Dorian recovery of this parish and of this community, we can surely make those words our own: ‘Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord is your strength (Ezra 8:10),” the Archbishop said.
He outlined that the Baptismal Font, the Altar, the Ambo, the Lectern, the Pedestal for the Tabernacle, the Chairs for the Priest and Deacon and the Credence Table are the work of a Bahamian craftsman. Each piece, he said, is crafted in proportion to the space.
“The work is exquisite. Rendered in mahogany. It is all an effort to create an ambiance of noble beauty befitting the exercise of worship,” the Archbishop said.
He said with this dedication “we are renewing the devotional life of this parish” which has been dormant over the past few years due to the lack of a church building.