The people of St. Therese Parish are building "a" church of bricks and mortar, steel and concrete, wood and glass. But "the" Church is built of Living Stones, the people of faith—the living, breathing, sinning, serving, loving Body of Christ. We are those "Living Stones" for St. Therese Parish. Along with those beloved souls who came before us in our 55-year history and those who will follow in our footsteps, we are the Church of St. Therese.
That's why we wanted to have a Living Stones Ceremony with the construction of our new church. We invited every parish family to find a softball-sized rock for this event. We used markers and paint to put our family names, the year we joined the parish, and decorations of our choice on our rocks. Mary Braun was moving out of state this fall and she hand-delivered her stone to the parish office knowing we would place it for her when the time came. Along with her own name and that of her daughter's family, Mary wrote, "St. Therese Parish—in my heart forever."
Students from our school decorated rocks for our shut-ins. Snowbirds brought us theirs before they headed south. We prepared one nice, brown stone with the names of all the 35+ Franciscan priests who ministered to our parish. Another one bore the names of many of the Franciscan sisters who served our school as teachers and principals. Several included the names of deceased parishioners. Some contained the names of three and four generations of family members who belong to the parish. Our pastor, Fr. Joe Rulli, planned to add a piece of concrete from our first church, originally a military post chapel from Baer Field, which was unearthed during the installation of new water lines.
The weekend of January 4th and 5th finally arrived and parishioners carried their stones into the old/current church at each of the four Masses. Fr. Joe quipped before beginning the liturgy that he would keep the homily brief because he could see we were "armed!" At the end of each Mass, Fr. Joe blessed our rocks and we followed him and the servers in procession from the old church to the new one. Once inside we gathered around the form for the elevated platform where the altar (the table of the Eucharist) and ambo (the table of the Word) will stand and we placed our decorated rocks on the bottom of that large sanctuary space.
Two days later, our contractor poured more stones and finally concrete over our family stones, representing the Living Stones of our parish, and sealed them forever beneath the tables of the Lord.
It was a wonderful day for remembering the past and for looking to the future when we will gather within our new worship space to give praise and glory to God.