St. Mary’s by the Sea welcomes you to our newly renovated Church. Last September 2017, we invited our parishioners to join us in a major renovation called the Legacy Project. The response to this invitation, both prayerfully and financially, was positively overwhelming! We believe the reason people were attracted to this proposal is because this community has gathered here together from a very early time to hear the Word of God, to pray together, to receive the sacraments, and to celebrate the Eucharist.  This Church stands as a special sign of the pilgrim Church on earth and reflects the Church dwelling in heaven… a sign and symbol of heavenly realities.

On Friday, November 30, 2018, the Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, JCD, DD, Bishop of the Orange Diocese, was present to dedicate our newly renovated church and altar. This dedication was a special event in the life of a church. It was rich in beauty and symbolism, and the ritual reminds us of the sacredness of Communion, the holiness of God, and our unity in the Catholic faith. In the dedication, Bishop Vann blessed the congregation and the walls of the church with holy water.  A special Prayer of Dedication was proclaimed, signifying that the church is dedicated to the Lord for all time and implored His blessing. It also asks God to pour forth His sanctifying power and petitions the Lord to make it a holy place where His children experience salvation and offer Him unceasing praise. Following the homily and profession of faith, the people prayed the Litany of the Saints, and the Bishop deposited the relic of St. Maria Goretti under the altar, which was permanently sealed in a special compartment. This part of the ritual connects us with the early tradition of building a Church over the burial site of a saint.

After a prayer of dedication, the Bishop consecrated the altar with Chrism oil and anointed the walls with Chrism oil. This fragrant oil containing balsam and olive oil is also used in baptisms, confirmations and ordinations. It marks something as sacred or sets something apart for service to God.

The Bishop then incensed the altar and the church. The altar was covered and lit with candles, and the church lights – up to that point dimmed – were fully switched on for the Liturgy of the Eucharist which followed. Following the prayer after Communion, and before the concluding rite, Bishop Vann went to the tabernacle, where the Blessed Sacrament is stored and venerated. This beautiful rite then concluded with prayers.

So welcome to St. Mary’s by the Sea Catholic Church. We have celebrated Mass here for over 100 years, and this major renovation assures that us and our descendants will be able to celebrate Mass here for another 100 years! May God look down favorably upon His children and bless us always!