12 Apostles' relics rest in St. Jude Church's new altar in Fredericksburg

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On the afternoon of July 14, Kelly Lucia arrived at St. Jude Church in Fredericksburg for Mass as she has for years, only this time when she knelt down to pray, she did so in the brand new church that she and her fellow parishioners have been praying for over the past 15 years.

 

“It’s miraculous,” said the mother of five, who remembers attending the first Mass in a funeral home chapel, the first of three temporary spaces St. Jude called home after the mission was founded in 2003. “We always knew we were the real church no matter what the building looked like,” she said.

 

But now, looking up at the new sanctuary with tears in her eyes she is almost at a loss for words. “It’s beautiful. It’s so reverent.”

 

Like Lucia, hundreds of parishioners and friends of St. Jude filled the church for the Mass of dedication celebrated by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and concelebrated by Bishop Emeritus Paul S. Loverde; Father James C. Hudgins, pastor; Father David Martin, founding pastor; and priests from around the diocese.

 

Before entering the church, Bishop Burbidge received a scroll of the church’s plans and the key from representatives of the construction crew Whitener & Jackson Inc. that built the church and the architectural firm O’Brien and Keane that designed it. The church, which took 21 months to complete, is cruciform-shaped, a symbol of the church as the living body of Christ.

 

During the homily, Bishop Burbidge thanked Father Hudgins and the parishioners for their years of perseverance and sacrifice for the project.

 

“St. Jude is someone to whom we pray, especially during times that seem to be impossible,” said Bishop Burbidge. “Through your hard work and the intercession of St. Jude, you have built this new and beautiful church. Any wise builder knows that the success of any project relies on its foundation, that which holds it up and sustains it. We can be assured that this beautiful church is built on solid foundation because it has been built on faith.”

 

The rite of dedication began with the litany of saints and the depositing of the relics within the altar. The altar was designed specially to house a reliquary containing the first class relics of all 12 Apostles — a gift to Father Hudgins 10 years ago from the cloistered sisters of the Church of Santa Lucia in Selci in Rome.

 

The marble altar bearing the statues of the Apostles in its base was anointed with sacred chrism by Bishop Burbidge to make them holy, visible signs of the mystery of Christ and his church. Twelve points on the church walls, identified by candles, were also marked with the sacred chrism by Father Hudgins and Father Christopher T. Vaccaro, chaplain of the University of Mary Washington Catholic Campus Ministry.

 

Incense was used to bless the altar, church and people, and the altar was prepared for the liturgy of the Eucharist.

 

For the first time, parishioners received communion in their new church and many were moved to tears.

 

For the next few days after the dedication, the church had many firsts: the first baby was baptized the following day by Deacon Bob Lyons, and two weddings were scheduled for July 21.

 

While parishioners and clergy get used to the new location, they take comfort knowing the days of transition are behind them. With the church building complete, parishioners look forward to focusing on the most important construction project of all — building the kingdom of God. 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018