Dedication of the Abbey Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, St Michael's Abbey

Last Tuesday, May 4th, I had the great joy of attending the dedication of the new St Michaels’ Abbey Church, dedicated to our Lady of the Assumption in Silverado, California. The ceremony was presided over by Bishop Kevin Vann of Orange, who was accompanied by Cardinal Burke, Archbishops Gomez of Los Angeles and Cordileone of San Francisco, the diocesan emeritus, Bishop Brown and auxiliaries, bishops Freyer and Nguyen, as well as the abbots of the several Norbertine houses in the country.

The Abbey church also contains eight additional side altars, as well as a crypt with a further seven, and one more in the cemetery chapel. Cardinal Burke, who is spending a few days at the abbey, has graciously agreed to consecrate them -- a particularly involved set of ceremonies when using the usus antiquior (Extraordinary Form of the Rite).

The recording of the ceremony is now available on the Abbey’s benefactor’s site. Since no commentary has been added yet, I will take the liberty of presenting my own accompanying the relevant timestamp:

00:00- The prelates gather at the doors of the Rosarian Dominican Sister’s convent (the sisters staff the abbey kitchen and take care of the sacristy linens)

00:30- The relics that will be placed in the main altar are carried in a wooden ark carried by the abbots of the North American Norbertine houses.

2:35- The procession commences, led by the cross and an icon of St Norbert, commissioned on the occasion of the order’s 900th anniversary and written/painted by Fr Peregrine Fletcher (carried facing backwards).

10:20- Bp. Freyer reads letters sent by Cardinal Parolin and Archbishop Pierre, Nuncio to the United States.

16:45- Handing over of the keys by the building contractor. The architect, Jean Louis Pag├Ęs, unfortunately could not be present.

21:26- The doors are opened and the bells toll as the procession enters the church.

37:00- Aspersion with holy water of the church and altar.

47:00- First and second readings

59:00- Proclamation of the Gospel

1:03:00- Sermon delivered by Abbott Eugene Hayes.

1:25:50- The Litanies of the Saints

1:31:50- Prayer of dedication

1:34:00- Deposition of the relics in the altar

1:38:40- Dedication of the altar

1:44:00- Anointing of the altar and walls (note the very necessary use of the gremiale)

2:00:00- Burning of the incense on the altar (note the use of the traditional cross-shaped candles and the large brazier).

2:21:00- Dressing and lighting of the altar and the church.

2:37:40- Blessing of the tabernacle

2:50:00- The Consecration (note the arrangement and proportion of the six candlesticks and altar cross)

3:14:30- Final remarks by Bishop Vann

Images by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG, Fr Joseph Horn and St Michael's Abbey.

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