Cardinal Wuerl Dedicates New Altar and Blesses Stained Glass Windows at a Maryland Parish

March 8, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrated Mass at St. John Baptist de la Salle parish in Chillum, Maryland for the Third Sunday of Lent. During the Mass, he blessed the church’s stained glass windows that depict the Glorious and Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary and dedicated the church’s new altar.

In his homily, the cardinal reflected on the Gospel reading of the day (John 2:13-25) which he said, “highlights in a vivid manner the importance of the sacred space we encounter God. In the temple of his day, Jesus drove out those who defiled this House of God and made it less a place of worship and more a marketplace. What Jesus is telling us is that the temple, the Church, the place where we encounter God must always be sacred space set aside for that encounter with God.” 

“This brings us to our celebration today of the blessing of this altar,” the cardinal continued. “It is set aside and consecrated to the service of God so that it in a very unique, identifiable and visible way it becomes the focal point of our worship, our encounter with Jesus in his death and Resurrection. Often at the beginning of solemn ceremonies the altar is incensed because as the Church tells us it is the primary symbol of Christ in the midst of his Church. It is blessed because on the altar the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass will be offered. We recognize that in the Eucharist—the celebration of Holy Mass on this altar—we encounter Christ in a way that we are not bystanders to the mystery of his death and Resurrection but participants in the new life it brings.”

Altar dedications are opportunities for the faithful to be part of a historical event in the life of their parish because they do not occur very often. “The dedication of this new altar here at Saint John the Baptist de la Salle Parish is a moment of public witness to the faith. It is a ritualized proclamation of our faith in the enduring salvific presence of Christ with his people. Just as, by the proclamation of the word, we are reminded of Christ’s death and Resurrection, so by the consecration and honoring of this altar are we renewed in our faith conviction that Christ continues to be present to his new people,” said the cardinal.

After the homily, the altar was dedicated as the Litany of the Saints was sung and the prayer of dedication was offered. The cardinal anointed the altar with chrism oil and then blessed it with incense. The altar, which had been bare of decoration at the beginning of Mass was then prepared for the celebration of the Eucharist with the altar cloth and candles.

St. John Baptist de la Salle parish in Chillum, Maryland was established in 1951 and is staffed by the priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE).


The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Chieko Noguchi
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