HENRIETTA — Worshipers at St. Marianne Cope Parish are enjoying a renovated worship space that, in a certain respect, was six decades in the making.
On Dec. 18, 2022, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano dedicated the parish’s new altar during the 10:30 a.m. Mass at its Guardian Angels site. The Mass was the first liturgy celebrated in the church following a six-month, $1.2-million makeover.
The church, located at 2061 E. Henrietta Road, had begun in 1961 as a temporary worship space in the former Guardian Angels School gymnasium. At that time, explained Mercy Sister Sheila Stevenson, St. Marianne’s pastoral administrator, a new church was to be built elsewhere on the campus, but that plan never materialized.
However, with the extensive renovations now complete, Sister Stevenson said all the key aspects of a Catholic worship facility are finally in place.
“This brings it into really looking like a church,” she said.
Henrietta church has many new and renovated features
Midway through the Dec. 18 Mass, Bishop Matano anointed the new altar with Sacred Chrism and incensed it. He then placed a relic of St. Marianne Cope in a small compartment — known as a reliquary — under the altar table.
Sister Stevenson noted that the authentic, first-class relic was acquired in 2012, when the parish was named St. Marianne Cope in honor of the saint’s canonization that year. The relic came from Hawaii, where Marianne Cope — a Utica native and Franciscan sister — for many years ministered to natives with leprosy.
The altar is made of wood, as part of a wood-themed design running throughout the church. Sister Stevenson said the artwork is meant to be attractive, but not elaborate.
“We’ve always said when we renovated, we wanted to be humble and simple; it speaks of who we are as a parish. There’s not a lot of ornateness,” she said.
Also during the dedication liturgy, Bishop Matano blessed the refurbished tabernacle — which rests on a freestanding table directly behind the altar — and new baptismal font in the center aisle toward the rear of the church.
Other new features are a reconciliation room, crucifix above the tabernacle, pews, hymn boards, flooring, and holders for paschal and altar candles. In addition, the processional cross and Stations of the Cross have been refurbished, and the lighting and sound systems have been upgraded. Sister Stevenson added that extensive painting also occurred during the renovation process.
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The six-month project began in June 2022. During the first three months, Masses were celebrated at St. Marianne Cope Parish’s other church, St. Joseph in Rush. However, liturgies were subsequently moved to Guardian Angels’ church hall due to a faulty ceiling at the Rush church. St. Joseph has yet to reopen, and Sister Stevenson said needed repairs are still being assessed.
Completion of renovations at Guardian Angels marked the end of a two-phase initiative. The first phase took place from April to October 2021 and featured the addition of a canopied entrance; expanded handicapped parking; a completely redesigned narthex; a large wood-carved statue of St. Marianne Cope; improved security; and upgraded office, meeting, bathroom and kitchen facilities.
“People have been very positive. They love it,” Sister Stevenson said of parishioners’ overall response to the renovations. She praised all who were involved in the planning and execution, saying, “It took a lot of commitment.”
When it was established in 2012, St. Marianne Cope Parish comprised Guardian Angels and St. Joseph as well as Henrietta’s Good Shepherd Church. In 2019, Good Shepherd was sold to the Rush-Henrietta Central School District.
Yet Sister Stevenson emphasized that the renovation at Guardian Angels honors the history of all three churches. For instance, she noted, the tabernacle as well as sizable statues of Mary and Joseph on the sanctuary walls were originally housed at Good Shepherd.Tags: Churches, Monroe County East