Since Holy Cross Church in Dryden is 100 miles from Rochester, parishioners don’t often get a chance to spend time with Bishop Matthew H. Clark. But after a four-day stretch that saw the bishop grace Holy Cross with a pair of appearances, he was seemingly right around the corner.
On Oct. 31, Bishop Clark presided at the 8:30 a.m. Mass to consecrate Holy Cross’ new altar and bless a church addition. The bishop returned to the church three nights later, Nov. 3, to officiate at the confirmation of 67 young people from Holy Cross and four other Tompkins County parishes.
"In a way, we felt a little spoiled this week," Lacy Park, Holy Cross’ faith-formation coordinator, remarked the day after the confirmation. "The buzz that Bishop Clark was coming, it was wonderful. I thought there was such great energy around our parish, just planning everything."
The renovation blessed by the bishop consists of two extra religious-education rooms in the parish center along with an expanded narthex, or lobby area. Total project cost was approximately $345,000, according to Dave Henke, Holy Cross financial committee cochair. Henke explained that this high amount also included expenses to rectify a long-standing drainage problem on church property. He said about half the project’s funds have been raised already, and a drive is currently in progress to cover the remaining amount.
Additional space had been sought by Holy Cross in recent years to accommodate a growing parish population. The bigger narthex also allows for extended worship space — which comes in handy not only for holiday crowds but also when Holy Cross plays host to events involving its fellow cluster churches, St. Anthony in Groton and All Saints in Lansing.
This larger area was put to good use on Nov. 3, thanks to the presence of many newly confirmed youths and their guests from the cluster and Ithaca’s Immaculate Conception and St. Catherine of Siena parishes. Park said the renovated church — along with a full church and the bishop’s presence — served as a "beautiful" setting for the confirmation.
Holy Cross now also proudly features a new altar as well as a new ambo, or pulpit; and credence table, on which gifts for the eucharistic celebration are placed. RoseMarie Bobnick, committee head for the altar project, said these three items’ total cost was $5,500. Most of the expenses were covered by memorial gifts for her husband, Jim, a highly active parishioner who died in 2002.
"He was instrumental in a lot of things that happened at Holy Cross," she said.
Joining Bishop Clark in celebrating the Oct. 31 dedication Mass were Father Malachy "Eloo" Nwosu, first-year pastor of Holy Cross; and Father Scott Kubinski — now pastor of Christ the Redeemer Parish in Elmira — who was the church’s pastor when the renovation began. As a tribute to Jim Bobnick, several family members had featured roles in the liturgy: grandson Tanis was an altar server; daughter Lorena was the cantor; RoseMarie and daughter Sharon Van De Mark dressed the altar; and daughter Deborah Moslehi and grandson Logan presented the gifts.
"Well, it was awesome, it was absolutely awesome," RoseMarie Bobnick said of the Mass. "It was awesome just seeing all the religious personnel who were participating at the altar." She called Bishop Clark "very down to earth. He’s a wonderful person, really great with the people."
Meanwhile, Park noted that the bishop met her family members at the Sunday liturgy and then asked about them at the confirmation on Wednesday.
"You know, he remembered my kids’ names. It just made you feel so wonderful. You felt like you have a personal connection now," Park said, adding that the bishop’s personal touch was evident at the confirmation as he spent considerable time meeting with the young people.
"As the faith-formation coordinator, you tell the candidates the bishop is going to lay his hands on you, going to talk to you. I don’t think they realize how special that is, not to take away from any other priest who does confirmation," Park said. "The candidates don’t realize the impact until that evening."