JACKMAN, Maine — St. Faustina Church of St. Anthony Parish was dedicated on Saturday, Dec. 14. A major winter storm prevented Bishop Richard J. Malone, apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Portland, from celebrating the dedication Mass. Bishop Malone delegated the responsibility to Kevin J. Martin, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish.
“I want to thank you for your support and your prayers,” said Martin during his homily, according to a Diocese press release. “I thank the many people who have been involved in this building project, but also for the many people who have made contributions and significant sacrifices to make our new church possible, and especially the people I am looking at. Each one of you, all of you, in your own way contributing in a particular way through your prayers, through your support, through your material gifts have brought us to this blessed day of our dedication.
“But above all else, above and beyond all of that, how tremendous is the significance of each and every one of us, how each one of us are called by name by our Savior to bear witness to Him, to give glory and praise to Him, because He has made all of this possible. Miracle after miracle after miracle. Story after story after story of amazing grace has guided us throughout this period of time in our parish history,” he said.
In the fall of 2009, deterioration at St. Anthony Church was estimated to require in excess of $1.2 million in repairs. The damage and the projected rising costs of heating the building led to the parish’s decision to close the church, which was demolished in October 2009.
Just eight months later, the parish’s statue of Jesus, valued at $55,000, was seriously damaged after it was dragged off its mount and across U.S. Route 201 by a vehicle. The statue’s arms and nose broke off and the cement base was cracked.
Now parishioners who have worshipped at the American Legion Hall in Jackman for four years and lived through these difficult moments have been rewarded. On Nov. 26, the statue of Jesus was returned after a long restoration process.
“The dedication of our new Catholic Church, St. Faustina Church of St. Anthony Parish, is indeed very much like the initiation of a Catholic Christian,” said Martin, according to a Diocese press release. “Taking you back to the beginning of the Mass, the Sprinkling Rite reminds us of the sacrament of Baptism. We did not baptize an infant or adult of course, but literally we are blessing a new church, blessing the people, blessing the church within which the people are gathered and will gather in the future.”
As part of the Dedication Mass, the church’s new altar was consecrated with sacred chrism and Martin walked to the four corners of the church and anointed the walls where four crosses with vigil candles symbolized the call to “go forth and spread the Good News of the Gospel message to the four corners of the world through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Despite the major storm outside, more than 100 parishioners participated in the Dedication Mass.
“I encourage you to continue to draw strength from the grace that has brought you here,” said Martin. “Trust in the providence that has brought you here. As we assemble and continue to welcome one another and other people to our church within our community and beyond, we are extraordinarily blessed through the intercession of our beloved St. Anthony of Padua and our patron for whom the church is dedicated, St. Faustina Kowalska.”