A HOMILY FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT – CYCLE “A” – DEC. 8TH 2019 – SMG
The Fifteenth Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church at St. Maria Goretti, Westfield.
The Twenty-fourth Anniversary of the First Mass ever held at St. Maria Goretti.
The Second Anniversary of the Blessing of our Bell Tower.
The First Anniversary of the Blessing of our Adoration Chapel.
It’s a BIG day!
+ Pax et Bonum! To quote my good friend, St. Francis of Assisi. Peace and goodness to you
We have much to give thanks to God for and to celebrate today! How many of you were here fifteen years ago? I know, some of you weren’t even born fifteen years ago. But when we built this church, over an eighteen month period from 2003 to 2004, I promise you, that we had you in mind, even before you were born, or before God brought you to St. Maria Goretti.
This evening, they’ve asked me to share some of the amazing stories with you about how we got our church building. And how God has worked for us, here in this former soybean field.
#1. First of all the land. The land for St. Maria Goretti was purchased through a third party broker. It had been a family farm that for several years was leased out for farming. The family did not want to sell it to Catholics, reminding us that not so long ago, there was a fair amount of anti-Catholicism in the Westfield area. The family was very interested that a possible school would exist on their former farm. Eventually, they sold their farm to us for about $7,500.00 an acre in 1993. We bought 62 acres. A few weeks ago, the land in our front yard, was now valued at $58,000.00 an acre. My how Westfield has changed!
#2. In 1995, when St. Maria Goretti open and had its first Mass, Westfield had just over 6,000 residents. Today St. Maria Goretti has 6,351 parishioners, bigger than Westfield when we started, and Westfield has, like, 43,000 residents. I think we helped Westfield grow.
#3. When we opened St. Maria Goretti, neither Westfield nor Carmel’s sewer systems came out here, this far. St. Maria Goretti was required, in order to get its initial building permit, to build a sewer line from 151st out to 169th St, along Spring Mill Road, including buying all the easements and permissions to go through people’s property. That mile and a half of sewer line would end up costing almost a million dollars, even before we laid a brick here at St. Maria Goretti. I got a quick lesson on how important sewer systems really are. Remember that, the next time you go to the bathroom here at church. A million dollars to go to the bathroom!
#4. The instructions that I was given for the building of the church at St. Maria Goretti, was to make it big enough to meet the needs of St. Maria Goretti for years. It was supposed to be big enough that one priest could have a couple of Masses, and get everybody in. Our Lady of Grace
in Noblesville, had recently been built, and on the day of its dedication, the building pastor made the statement to me, that the church in Noblesville should have been twice the size at it was. I was bound and determined not to say that on the day that we dedicated the new St. Maria Goretti church. Because of the size of the church at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, they were having ten Masses every weekend to accommodate every one. We had to do better, because we were not going to have the priests to have ten Masses. So permission was given for a fifteen hundred seat church at St. Maria Goretti. It would be, one of the largest Catholic churches in the State of Indiana. We weren’t going for the record. We were just going to need that many seats. But the Diocese put a stipulation on us that made 1500 seats a challenge. The last pew, on the center aisle, could not be more than 100 feet from where the priest stands for the consecration. This we were able to do. It is actually like, 96 feet from here to the back pew on the center aisle. Where our church gets its size, is by going wide. It is substantially much farther than 100 feet from here to the corners of our church. But that’s not what they were concerned about, only the main aisle.
#5. How about that St. Michael Window? Do you know we looked at over 650 images of St. Michael for that window. We really liked one similar to this one, by an artist from Texas. But there was a problem, St. Michael’s sword was straight up in the air, instead of at his side. And the original picture had St. Michael looking exactly like Luke Skywalker from Star Wars. We contacted the artist. He lowered the light sabre, I mean, the sword, and St. Michael instantly looked like our St. Michael the Archangel.
#6. How about those brick arches? Did you know, the five layer brick archway behind our sanctuary was to remind us of a prayer of Mother Teresa, St. Teresa of Calcutta. The prayer is this: The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith, is love, the fruit of love is service, and the fruit of service is peace. So, each arch in the brick represents silence, prayer, faith, love, and service. We’re supposed to think of that, when we see the arches. Now you know!
#7. In 2004, when we moved into the new church, I had to sign a waiver with the city of Westfield. It was an acknowledgment that at that time, Westfield did NOT have a fire truck that had a ladder that could reach the top of our church. St. Maria Goretti used to be the tallest building in Westfield. Then Riverview built the new Westfield Riverview hospital, right next to highway 31, which is taller than our church. However, it is NOT taller than our bell tower. The Hospital and the bell tower were being built at the same time. Workers on both projects said that they could hear each other talking, even that far apart, at that height.
#8. At one time, the FAA was going to make us put a red flashing light on top of our bell tower, so that planes wouldn’t hit. They backed off the idea, if we would promise to keep the bell tower lit at night. They said it would be a great visual landmark for pilots to tell where they were.
#9. Did you know that our Baptismal font holds ninety gallons of water? Ninety gallons of water to wash away original sin! We hope it never leaks and runs down the aisle!
And finally, #10. What’s the number one question people ask when they come into our church and start looking around? How do you change the lightbulbs? And it’s a good question! And as most of us know, it takes a lift from Chicago to do it. Yes, you have to move some pews. And the trickiest ones are the ones over the Altar and marble sanctuary, because the lift has to be able to scissor over to reach them, without actually going up on the marble tile. We usually have to change all the lightbulbs every two to three years. With the new LED lights that were just installed this past year, we are hoping, that we only have to that every seven to ten years now. Who’s the patron saint of LED lightbulbs?
15 Years! We have been blessed. And this building that we call “church”, it is our spiritual home. John the Baptist today calls us to Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. We are building that Kingdom one soul at a time here at St. Maria Goretti! Let us give thanks for the last fifteen years. And let us be prepared for all that God is going to do in the future! Happy Anniversary!
+ May God bless all of us, as we strive to repent and reform our lives, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!