A friend of ours whose husband is a naval captain compared the dedication of the Chapel to ‘a ship coming to life’.  And this is a very good comparison.  The rite of the dedication of a church is rich with symbolism and beauty.  
For about 18 months we’ve seen this building in a its various stages of completion.  The last 6 months since living here, we traipsed in and out of the chapel – moving stuff, cleaning, giving tours, etc.  The chapel, though beautiful, was still just a building. It did not yet have life.  The True Presence of the Lord was not yet present. 
At long last, that came yesterday – during the rite of dedication and the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Let me walk you through some of the highlights and struck me to the heart:
Haydon Building Corp hands over the plans to the Bishop who in turn gives them to the Nuns
  • As the people began filling up the Church, there was a great excitement.  Perhaps, ANTICIPATION is a better word.  It was like a faint pulse was felt in the heart of the Church.  There were signs of life.  
  • Then the Bishop entered with a retinue of servers, deacons, and priests.  The pulse got stronger.  
  • The Readings were proclaimed and the Word of God – alive and active – was heard in this Church for the first time.  The pulse sped up.  The heart pumped more blood to its members.
  • The relic (St. Gaudiosa, martyr) was placed in the altar.  Such a grace to realize that the saints who LIVE with God in heaven are very much present to us even to this very day.
  • Then the Bishop anointed the Altar with sacred chrism.  Each wall of the Church was anointed as well.  Strength and life-breath continued to grow.
    Bishop Olmsted anoints the Altar with Chrism

    The anointing of the walls of the Church by Fr. Mark Mary
  • The altar was prepared for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by the nuns, then all the candles in the Church were lit.  It was like the light of life could be seen by all.  As this was done, the choir chanted:
    O Light born of Light, Jesus, redeemer of the world,
    with loving-kindness deign to receive suppliant praise and prayer.

    Thou who once deigned to be clothed in flesh for the sake of the lost,
    grant us to be members of thy blessed body.

    The Preparation of the Altar by Sr. Mary Fidelis and Sr. John-Mark Maria

    The Lighting of the Dedication Candles by Br. Francis Edkins, CFR
The Mass continued as usual after the lighting.  We were blessed to have many priests in attendance, some traveling as far as from Canada to be present for this special event.  
The Concelebrants
The culmination of this breathing of life into the lungs of our chapel, into the sails of our ship, was accomplished when Our Lord came among us in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  With the disciples of Emmaus we cry out: STAY WITH US LORD.  And he did. 
Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament after Mass
When a ship comes to life (aka planking), at its first commissioning, the crew members are called Plank Owners.  So we, the founding nuns of Our Lady of Solitude (the Plank Owners, so to speak), are especially grateful to have witnessed this ‘ship’s coming to life’. 
Sr. Marie Andre expressing her gratitude after Mass
6 years ago, as we left our Monastery in Alabama to establish this new Foundation it was with one driving motivation: TO ESTABLISH A NEW THRONE FOR OUR EUCHARISTIC KING.  On May 7th, as those reredos doors were opened at the end of Mass and the Lord of Glory took His Throne, that was accomplished – and it was accomplished in a mighty way.
Fr. Parks in Adoration after the Dedication
We are grateful that, unlike Moses, we were able to see the Promised Land – not from a distance…but so near to us.  And that now we are able to live in His Presence.  We see Him reigning in our beautiful Chapel as King.  May He reign forever in our hearts as well.
Our benefactress and dear friend Mrs. Connie Vitale
There are so many thank yous to say, but that will have to wait for another blog as this one is already growing long.  Enjoy the photos – more to come and more details to come as well. 
A HUGE thank you to EWTN and the crew who came to AZ to film