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‘Day of rejoicing’ as renovated St. Augustine’s new altar dedicated

10 8.31.17_ADSF2017_St Augustine-28 PAGENewly renovated St. Augustine Church in South San Francisco was blessed and the new altar consecrated Aug. 26 at a special Mass with Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone as principal celebrant. The pastor of St. Augustine is Father Rene Ramoso. (Photo by Dennis Callahan/Catholic San Francisco)

August 31, 2017
Valerie Schmalz

The archbishop consecrated the new altar at St. Augustine Church Aug. 26, the central focus of a transformed building that is now full of natural light, a $2.1 million renovation that capitalizes on the church’s setting upon a hill above South San Francisco.

“This is a truly beautiful space, befitting the worship of the one true God,” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone told the parishioners gathered at the 4 p.m. Saturday Mass of dedication and blessing. “This is a great accomplishment and a really historical moment in the life of your parish.”

The interior renovation lifted the ceiling of the church. The sanctuary was redesigned, placing the tabernacle at the center, and opening up the altar to the view of every place in the church. The new Italian marble altar was chosen by the archbishop, pastor Father Rene Ramoso said. The large Italian crucifix, a patrimony of the parish, was moved slightly to the side of the tabernacle nearer to the choir and lit from behind. The pews were also refurbished.

“We did not have any difficulty asking for money from the people. The money kept coming in,” Father Ramoso said.

The parish of 5,000 people fills the church for six Masses each weekend, said Father Ramoso, who has been pastor of the almost entirely Filipino parish for 13 years.

During the six-month construction phase, Mass was held in a tent and in the parish hall.

The archbishop combined the consecration of the altar and the rededication with his parish visit, telling the parishioners, “This is indeed a day of rejoicing.”

The Mass included the dedication and anointing of the altar, the blessing of the new ambo and the blessing of the new tabernacle. As part of the consecration of the altar, the archbishop first extended his hands over the altar and dedicated it, asking that God make the altar “a sign of Christ,” “a place of communion and peace,” and “the center of our praise and thanksgiving.”

He then removed his chasuble, the vestment for Mass, and put on a linen apron. He poured chrism oil – the oil used in baptism, confirmation and holy orders – on the altar to anoint it for sacrifice and rubbed the oil into the stone surface of the altar.

After Archbishop Cordileone re-donned his vestments, a brazier was placed on the altar into which he put incense, praying, “May our prayer ascend as incense in your sight. As this building is filled with fragrance, so may your church fill the world with the fragrance of Christ.” He incensed the altar and then the deacon incensed the archbishop and the people.

After the incensing, two parishioners cleansed the altar surface and laid an altar cloth. The archbishop gave the deacon a lighted candle and the deacon lit the altar candles for the first time, completing the consecration of the altar.

In an interview, Archbishop Cordileone said the redesign of the post Vatican II church which retained an open sanctuary without an altar rail, was beautiful. “I highly commend Father Rene and the parish here for the design they came up with,” Archbishop Cordileone said, noting that the new design accommodates the crucifix, which has “been here a long time and is part of the parish patrimony” while “keeping the Blessed Sacrament (in the tabernacle) in the center where it is the focus of our prayer.”

In his homily, Archbishop Cordileone told the parishioners “I am very grateful to you and in particular to Father Rene,” for stewardship, or sharing of God’s gifts of time, talent and treasure.

“No one person can accomplish the mission of the church. Rather it requires all of us,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

“We pray in the psalm that ‘God not forsake the work of his hands,” he said. “This building project is a work of his hands, accomplished through the work of your hands.”


10 8.31.17_ADSF2017_St Augustine-22 PAGEWorshippers fill St. Augustine Church on Aug. 26 for rites consecrating the new altar. (Photo by Dennis Callahan/Catholic San Francisco)

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