The members of St. Mary Church have spent their own time and money to renovate the sanctuary by repainting and tiling the floor and preparing for a new marble altar and ambo.
On Tuesday, March 8, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor blessed and dedicated the new altar and lectern where Scripture is read during a Mass, known as an ambo. About 50 parishioners attended the blessing. The matching altar and ambo were purchased with funds donated to the parish.
"Any place where you have local people working together, it is very inspiring," Bishop Taylor said before the Mass and dedication. "They worked together as a community."
During the Mass, the bishop blessed the new altar and ambo with holy water. He then installed a relic of St. Teresa of Jesus of Spain, who was canonized in 1622, before anointing the granite altar with oil. After the oil was wiped away, the bishop then purified both the altar and ambo with incense.
The altar was then covered, and candles were lit in preparation for Communion.
Father Arokiasamy Madhichettyirudayaraj, pastor of St. Mary Church, said the 47-year-old church had not been updated since it was built. He said parishioners removed wooden partitions in the back of the sanctuary designed to hold pipes for an organ that was never installed. He said the walls were repainted, and the sanctuary's floor was raised by about eight inches and surfaced with white tile.
"This cost us only $3,000 to $4,000 because our people did all the labor," he said.
The altar and ambo are made of matching gray marble. The marble legs of the altar each have a gold cross, which matches a larger cross on the front of the ambo. The Greek letters alpha and omega flank the cross on the ambo.
Father Nirmal Raj Kambala Mariadass, pastor of Our Lady of Good Hope Church in Hope, also concelebrated the Mass.
Father Madhichettyirudayara said the $8,000 needed to buy the new altar and ambo was raised by the late Ann Godwin, who died on March 9, 2020, as well as Gary Gehrke and Jeff Bakle.
Bakle said the altar and ambo were made by a local company in Arkadelphia. He said his contribution was in honor of his father, Carl Bakle, who died March 26, 2021.
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