Bishop dedicates altar to close St. Andrew the Apostle’s Jubilee Year

Bishop dedicates altar to close St. Andrew the Apostle’s Jubilee Year

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Bishop Dennis Sullivan censes the altar during a Mass of dedication and thanksgiving Nov. 30 at St. Andrew the Apostle Church, Gibbsboro, to close the parish’s golden jubilee. The theme of the Jubilee Year was “Celebrating Christ Yesterday & Today.”

Photo by Alan M. Dumoff

On Nov. 30, the feast of St. Andrew and the First Sunday of Advent, Bishop Dennis Sullivan presided at a Mass of dedication and thanksgiving to close the 50th Jubilee Year that marked the anniversary of the formation of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish.
To honor this milestone, Msgr. Louis A. Marucci, pastor, the parish leadership and the parishioners of St. Andrew developed a plan for a yearlong celebration of events. During the planning process, three objectives received overwhelming support. Events would consist of opportunities to grow in faith; enhance communal worship; and coordinate social activities so parishioners could grow in fellowship with one another.
The theme of the Jubilee year became “Celebrating Christ Yesterday & Today.”
The Jubilee committee also identified three opportunities to be addressed to leave a legacy for the future. First, the Parish would relocate the tabernacle from the chapel located to the left of the narthex (vestibule) into the sanctuary of the church and perform a sanctuary enhancement to give prominence to the altar, ambo and tabernacle. Second, the tabernacle would be repainted with murals that would restore a sense of reverence and holiness; third, the parish would seek the approval of Bishop Sullivan to conduct a fund-raising strategy to raise the $150,000 needed for the restoration.
Msgr. Marucci sought the counsel of a licensed liturgical architect, and formed several councils to assess the goals for this project. The plan was launched, and the construction commenced simultaneously with the fund-raising strategy. Within five weeks the church and the chapel were completely transformed, and the parishioners achieved their fundraising goal.
Msgr. Marucci gave the parishioners a surprise when he informed the congregation a few weeks prior that the ambo that was being restored was the pulpit used by Pope John Paul II when he addressed the people of Washington, D.C. in 1979.
After the ceremonies, there arose the question of what to do with this sacred appointment. A parishioner, John Delaney, requested that it be given to St. Andrew the Apostle Church, who were anticipating building a new church in the future. The ambo was gifted and used from 1979 at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish Hall, until the time they built the existing church in 1989. At that time, the church obtained a different ambo, and the appointment used by Pope John Paul II was wrapped in plastic and kept in storage until this renovation.
With the impeding canonization of Pope John Paul II, Msgr. Marucci and members of the leadership council had it marbleized, yet retained some of the original wood.
The planning for the Jubilee Year took final shape last year while Msgr. Marucci was hospitalized for 84 days last year following post-surgical complications. Msgr. Marucci enjoys telling the story of using the “white board” in his hospital room, reserved to identify the nurse, aid and day, to outline an entire year of jubilee events that would eventually become a 36-page jubilee booklet. The jubilee events were designed to coincide with the Year of Faith promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI, and served to highlight the liturgical, spiritual and social events that would mark a yearlong jubilee celebration.
The jubilee events included the opening liturgy and brunch and Masses that honored St. Gerard Majella, the patron saint of mothers and women hoping to conceive, a Mass for inclusion of persons with all abilities, for healing, and to honor the Blessed Mother. Faith formation programs included a Biblical Institute, church chat sessions, a Lenten renewal, the formation of small faith communities, and opportunities to grow in faith through the Parish Spiritual Life Ministry. Social opportunities consisted of a Mardi Gras celebration, a St. Joseph’s Table Feast, Pasta with the Pastor and Talent Night, chicken BBQ, outdoor family movie night, pilgrimages to the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Hammonton; to the Wedding of the Sea (Atlantic City), and to the Holy Land.
The response of the parishioners to the Mass of Thanksgiving and Dedication, the Jubilee Year of Faith events and the Gala Banquet Evening was positive. According to Msgr. Marucci, “God had a unique way of putting his hand into this project. Not only did God provide the beautiful marble and materials that were used in the main sanctuary of the church, he also provided the talent of the artists and several artisans that were instrumental in bringing about the magnificent changes to the church and chapel.
“Local artists were engaged to enhance the sanctuary and chapel in order to create a place of serenity and prayer and to enhance the worship of parishioners for years to come,” he continued. “The objective was to give honor to Our Lord, Our Blessed Mother and to St. Andrew our patron, (the first one called) who was the brother of Simon Peter. It is our hope that the beauty, warmth and reverence of the newly renovated sanctuary and the artistically painted chapel, will enhance the prayer of the parishioners for many generations.”
The parish currently has approximately 2,600 registered families and offers nearly 100 ministries. St. Andrew the Apostle is comprised of nearly 85 ethnic communities.

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