MAY 7, 2021
By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
MOBILE – St. Ignatius Parish is honoring its past, plus looking to the future with its beautiful new church.
Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi blessed and dedicated the parish’s new church building on April 25, a church that celebrates its long Jesuit history. Both St. Ignatius and the former St. Joseph Catholic Church in downtown Mobile were founded by the Society of Jesus.
St. Ignatius is filled with sacred items, windows and pews from St. Joseph, which closed in 2018.
The church’s new belltower also houses three bells with the engraved names of St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier and St. Peter Faber, co-founders of the Society of Jesus“I think that’s one of the beauties of our new church – that we are honoring our past and honoring the faith that has been handed down to us,” St. Ignatius Parish Pastor Fr. Bry Shields said. “What a blessing it is to thank God for those who have gone before us and to use sacred items from St. Joseph Church in a new building for a new generation.”
The new St. Ignatius church building stands adjacent to the old church on Springhill Avenue. Before Archbishop Rodi handed Fr. Shields the keys to new church and the doors were opened, all gathered in the old church for a ceremony.
Capital campaign chairman Lynn Clapper vividly recalled the past when a kindergarten building, gymnasium, auditorium and church were built on the parish grounds in 1966.
She also said she hopes the significance of April 25, 2021, will be etched in the memories of the younger generation.
“It is my hope that 55 years from now … they will look back in this moment when the families of St. Ignatius Parish stood in awe. St. Ignatius Parish built a church that is beautiful for God,” Clapper said. “And it is my prayer that the memory of this day comes flooding back.”
After the ceremony in the old church, the faithful processed to the outside of the new church. They entered into an unlit, undecorated new church with its unconsecrated altar.
The Mass of Dedication included the anointing of the church’s altar and walls, plus the incensation and lighting of the altar and church before the Liturgy of the Eucharist.The faithful then got a true look at how beautiful the church is. But no matter how beautiful the building is, Archbishop Rodi said in his homily, the faith must be lived outside the church building.
“We can have beautiful vessels up here, but they mean nothing if the vessels in our neighbors’ homes have no food on them. We can have beautiful vestments here, but they mean nothing if our neighbors have nothing to wear. We can have a beautiful house of God here, but it means nothing if our neighbors don’t have decent housing,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful building, a building where we, the temples of the Holy Spirit gather. As beautiful as it is, let us remember we are the Church.”
According to Fr. Shields, more than 600 families contributed to the $16 million church project.
As for the old church, plans call for it to be converted into a parish hall.
“We are very excited and look forward to seeing what our new church does for our parish,” Fr. Shields said.
“It’s truly a watershed moment in the life of our parish to dedicate this church to the greater glory and honor of God and to ask the Lord to invigorate us that we might worship Him in the beauty of holiness and then really go forth to love and serve Him through the ministry of our parish and through our lives.”
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