St. Rose of Lima in Mt. Vernon, blessed, dedicated

Bishop Carl A. Kemme pours Holy Chrism on the altar in St. Rose Church. (Courtesy/Kayla Tate)

The new St. Rose of Lima Church in Mt. Vernon. (Courtesy photo)

Not only did Bishop Carl A. Kemme bless the new St. Rose of Lima Church in Mt. Vernon Friday, Aug. 13, but Pope Francis also imparted an Apostolic Blessing on Father Dan Duling, the pastor, and the parishioners.

The parish broke ground for the replacement church on Aug. 2 last year and overcame all the pandemic challenges in time for the dedication weekend Aug. 13-15. The church was dedicated Friday night, Aug. 13.

Bishop Kemme told those attending the dedication that it was an honor for him to bless, dedicate, and consecrate the new church. “It is my honor to lead us in this praise and to consecrate its altar and walls, setting it apart for sacred worship as the house of God.”

Bishop Kemme thanks those involved

He then thanked the many people involved in the planning and construction of the church.

“In the name of the entire diocese, I wish to thank the lay leaders of this parish, serving on various councils for their vision and courage. I thank the many who have and will continue to make sacrificial gifts so that this structure could be built serving the needs of present and future parishioners.”

He thanked Sheldon Architecture and Dondlinger Construction. And especially thanked previous pastors, Father Ivan Eck, Father Aaron Spexarth, Father Dwight Birket, and Father Daniel Duling, the current pastor.

“In the first apostolic period, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, the first Christians were largely Jewish converts, who heard the stories of Jesus in their synagogues,” Bishop Kemme said. “As the faith spread into the Gentile world, churches were first the homes of believers, but as time passed, the Christian communities began to build gathering places, using the model of the ancient basilicas, which were places of commerce, entertainment perhaps but most especially socializing. These became then the first parish churches that would serve the people. Now, 21 centuries later, parish churches dot the landscape of every known territory throughout the world.”

The bishop said a parish church is a holy place, consecrated for sacred purposes.

“The mission of the Christian community, which is to evangelize, to form disciples, and to live the faith in its entirety, is supported by the parish church. It, too, has a mission and that is to be the place for the sacred encounter between God and his pilgrim people, the place where the word is heard and preached, where the people, who are God’s building gather and where God’s people receive the Bread of Life in Holy Communion.”

The church is a place of gathering but also a place of sending forth, Bishop Kemme said. “Where the people are sent back out into the world, having been called, formed, and nourished here at the altar of God’s Word and Sacrament, being sent back out to family, home, school, work, and neighborhood as missionary disciples with the desire to live and proclaim their faith in Jesus Christ.”

Grow the Pastoral Plan

Bishop Kemme closed his homily by saying he hopes the diocesan Pastoral Plan will take root and grow in the diocesan family.

“I pray in a special way this night for all of you in the parish of St. Rose of Lima that you will use this new parish church to make our pastoral plan a living reality in the lives of all who enter these doors so that as you gather here day by day – but especially on the Lord’s Day – and are sent forth from here to preach the Gospel to all God’s children and to evangelize our current culture – each and every person – will by a courageous and radical discipleship and stewardship become truly and fully alive as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ in this new apostolic era.”

The bishop praised the parish in a statement printed in a dedication booklet. “It takes great courage to looks ahead and to plan for future generations. In building this church you have done just that. I thank you for your courage.”

Quoting a detail of the diocesan Pastoral Plan, Bishop Kemme said St. Rose Church will be a place from which the parish can send out those who will be “fully alive as missionary disciples.”

The only parishioners who had been inside the church before the dedication were members of the building committee and the pastoral council, Fr. Duling said, so the Aug. 13 dedication was also the big reveal for them.

“This last month has been a long haul but it’s been well worth every bit of it,” the pastor said. “I’m proud and overwhelmed by our parishioners. This has been a dream for them before I was even a thought in my parents’ mind.”

The months of planning and carrying out the project have brought the parish and families together, he said.

Father Duling paid tribute in the booklet to Rita Peitz who cared for the old church for decades as sacristan. She is one of the oldest members of the parish and was given a cross made from the wood of the old church. The sacristy will also be referred to as Rita’s Room.

Following Mass, the parish celebrated in the hall and with a firework show. The dedication was live streamed. A recording is available on St Rose’s YouTube channel.

First of five phases

The church is the first in a five-phase master-building plan for the parish. For more information about future plans, visit

The new church, which will seat around 300, replaces a decaying building dedicated in 1921 that was so small 50 to 100 parishioners would frequently have to watch live video of the Mass in the parish hall. The parish’s first church, dedicated in 1911, was struck by lightning on June 25, 1920, and burned to the ground.

The pastor of the multi-parish community said the new structure will incorporate the original altar and other elements from the original church.
The new church’s bell tower is a replica of the bell tower of the previous church. The original bell was refurbished and is in place for its next century of use.

The church is located less than a mile southwest of Cheney State Park and is popular with fishermen and weekenders during the summer.