By Joe Bollig
MARYSVILLE — The first words of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann’s homily expressed sentiments shared by many at the dedication Mass of the new St. Gregory Church here on May 26.
“Wow,” he said. “It’s pretty impressive — very beautiful.”
Parishioners looked about with delight as they processed inside their beautiful new church for its first Mass.
The church’s dedication marked a journey begun in 2009. Parish leadership determined that the church built in 1975 should be renovated for a parish hall, and the parish hall demolished so a new church could be built in its place.
The total cost of the project was approximately $8.2 million.
Now St. Gregory Church, its steeple topped by a shining gold cross, is once again the highest and most prominent structure in Marysville.
The day began with an opening prayer by Archbishop Naumann over all those gathered at St. Gregory School. The group then processed across the street to the front doors of the church.
There, the archbishop received the key to the front door from Don Landoll, building committee chairman; the plans from Mark Franzen, president of HTK Architects from Overland Park; and the certificate of occupancy from Don Stallbaumer, project manager for general contractor AHRS Construction of Bern.
The archbishop then handed the key to pastor Father Nathan Haverland, who opened the door so all could enter.
During the Mass, Archbishop Naumann blessed the water in the baptismal font and then the people and walls with holy water.
The dedication rites took place after the creed and the Litany of the Saints. Assisted by Father Haverland, Archbishop Naumann placed the relics of the parish inside the altar: St. Gregory the Great, the North American Martyrs, St. Joseph, the true cross and St. Anthony of Padua.
After the prayer of dedication, the archbishop anointed the altar with sacred chrism, and Father Haverland and Abbot James Albers, OSB, of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, anointed 12 gold-colored crosses with candle holders evenly spaced on the walls around the church.
The archbishop incensed the altar, and members of the Altar Society dressed the altar for Mass.
Archbishop Naumann was joined at the altar by Father Haverland, Abbot James, Msgr. Thomas Tank, Father Arul Carasala, Father Greg Hammes, Father Bob Hasenkamp and Father Reginald Saldanha. Deacon Colin Haganey assisted, and Father Bruce Ansems was master of ceremonies.
In his homily, Archbishop Naumann thanked previous pastor Father Jim Shaughnessy who began the project, and Father Haverland who completed it. He thanked parish leadership and parishioners for their hard work and sacrifices.
“Much of what we see today is also an effort to, in some ways, shadow the previous church that is often referred to as the ‘landmark church’ that dominated the skyline of Marysville for so many years,” said Archbishop Naumann.
In remarks before the dismissal and the reception that followed, Father Haverland thanked parishioners for all their hard work and recognized persons who played key roles.
“I can’t count how many emails and how many meetings this building took, but it was a lot,” he said.
“We did this together,” he continued, “this was all of us; the faithfulness of you and the generosity of you.
“So, this is our church — this is what we’ve done. Think of all the beautiful memories we’ll have in here . . . this great gift for all the generations of the people who will come after us.
“This is a testament to you and your faithfulness.”
This is the fifth church in the parish’s history, replacing the church built in 1975 to replace the “landmark church.” The parish decided on a traditional design that echoed the 1895 version and many of the older churches in the surrounding area.
The Gothic-style church has a 113-foot steeple with working clock faces on each side and the three original bells from the 1895 church. The Landoll Corporation, a local business, built the steeple. Despite its traditional look, the basic structure is a pre-engineered metal building more associated with industrial and agricultural uses.
The church exterior has a burgundy
-red brick veneer with limestone accents. It has a standing seam metal roof finished in a dark bronze color.
The two medallions on the facade — St. Gregory and the archdiocesan coat of arms — are limestone-colored cast stone. The parish hall has one depicting the St. Benedict medal.
The church interior has a clear, unobstructed view thanks to the tapered columns in the walls. The main area has 62 dark, red oak pews that can seat 600 and matching wainscoting on the walls. There is a choir loft with an organ and risers for a choir.
The floor is mostly white and tan sand drift tile, and the area around the altar is white marble tile.
The center aisle is blue terrazzo and has three medallions symbolizing the three theological virtues.
The walls are golden brown, with light blue with gold trim behind the altar and devotional areas. There is extensive stenciling throughout.
Many of the liturgical furnishings are heritage items. For example, the main altar features a Last Supper bas-relief from the altar of the 1895 church.
Dominating the interior is a magnificent, Gothic-style high altar and reredos. It was made in Austria in 1865, and is from a closed and demolished church in Newark, New Jersey.
It underwent extensive refurbishing and was reassembled from 400 pieces. It has 17 statues, including a large crucifix.
The altar is set off from the pews by a Gothic-style Communion rail, echoing the design of the pews.
The stained-glass windows, from the 1895 church but resized for the 1975 church, are being resized yet again. They will be installed later.
The church, choir loft, narthex, day chapel and connecting hallway to the parish hall are a combined 14,540 square feet.