A feast day of sorts took place Sunday at St. Thomas More Catholic Community in Henderson, NV, when Viatorians returned to celebrate the Solemnity of the Anniversary of the Dedication of St. Thomas More.
Church officials cited from the Roman Pontifical, Rite of Dedication of a Church (27), in underscoring the importance of the occasion: “The anniversary of a church’s dedication is celebrated with the rank of a solemnity,” they said. “The annual celebration of a parish’s dedication outranks even most Sundays of the Church’s liturgical year.”
Several Viatorians returned for this rare celebration, including: Fr. Patrick Render, CSV, and Fr. Robert M. Egan, CSV, both former pastors, as well as Fr. William Haesaert, CSV, an associate pastor and Fr. Thomas von Behren, former provincial.
“We’re not just celebrating the anniversary of a building,” Fr. Render said in his homily, ‘but the significance of this building in the life of the community.”
He went on to describe how it was Bishop Daniel Walsh who consecrated the new church building in 1996, rubbing sacred oil into small crosses on its walls and all across the new altar.
“When Bishop Walsh came to this church, it was simply new construction,” Fr. Render explained, “and he consecrated this church to transform it from a structure into a temple.
“He poured oil all over this table and rubbed it in,” he added, “transforming it into a sacred place of sacrifice and communion. A consecrated people now gather in a consecrated place.”
Viatorians founded the parish in 1986, with Fr. Thomas Long, CSV, serving as its first pastor. Early Masses were celebrated at a local preschool before moving to the chapel in the nearby Palm Mortuary.
The parish built its first building, a multi-purpose center in 1989, and Masses took place there until their long awaited church was dedicated on Sept. 26, 1996, under the leadership of Fr. Daniel Nolan, CSV, pastor, and Associate Ken Rosania, business manager. Viatorians led the parish until 2019, overseeing its growth to more than 6,000 families, before the Diocese of Las Vegas assumed its leadership.
“Thank you to those who celebrated with us, including some of our former pastors and priests that joined us. It was a wonderful weekend,” said Fr. Bede Wevita, pastor. “A legacy has been left by each person that gave of their time to this parish and now we have to consider and pray on our response. Think about the next 25 years…the next 100 years. It is our time to come back together as a family of God and of our St. Thomas More Catholic Community to worship, praise and celebrate.