Bishop Blesses New Altar and Sanctuary at Vandergrift Parish
By Maria Guzzo
Vandergrift – Jan 22, 2023 – Many ceremonial procedures went into Bishop Larry J. Kulick’s blessing the new altar at St. Gertrude Parish in Vandergrift.
First, he blessed the new altar and sanctuary appointments with holy water, representing our baptism into the church. Then he anointed the marble-topped altar by pouring chrism on it, much like confirmation. Then he incensed the altar, and prayers lifted to heaven on the smoke. Finally, he lit candles on the altars representing the light of Christ.
Bishop Kulick thanked parishioners for their generous stewardship that restored St. Gertrude.
“We are truly thankful for God for the blessings he’s given us so we can be thankful for the beautiful space to give Him worship, honor and glory.”
The new altar had been installed just days before the altar-blessing Mass, which St. Gertrude pastor Father James Loew said culminated a decade-long $500,000 renovation.
“The 1970s modern altar look didn’t fit the Romanesque building,” Fr. Loew said.
The project began with brick repointing and a new roof, Fr. Loew said, and a leak and the pandemic slowed the process.
Kurt Amendola, head of the church’s restoration committee, said that within the past 18 months they’ve moved the organ back to the choir loft; painted the walls and embellished the ceiling behind the altar; colorized the Stations of the Cross and statues; and added side aisle lights and a new crucifix, both of which came from a church in Lawrenceville.
The new altar, side altars, back altar, ambo and baptismal font, all white with gold embellishment, are now positioned further back, as opposed to the central location of the previous altar area. The old wood-tone ‘70s era style altar pieces have been placed for use at the St. Gertrude Cemetery chapel, Fr. Loew said.
Pews will be moved from the sides to the now-empty center area to complete two long rows of pews facing the new altar, Fr. Loew said.
Fr. Loew said the change has been well-received by parishioners.