On Sunday, Sept. 20, Bishop Barry C. Knestout dedicated St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish, Charlottesville, the new Romanesque-style church bordered by the University of Virginia, at the 5:15 evening Mass with approximately 300 in attendance. The Mass was concelebrated by Father Michael Boehling, vicar general; Msgr. R. Francis Muench, episcopal vicar for the Central Vicariate; Dominican Father Joseph Barranger, parish pastor; clergy from the Dominican Friars who will staff the parish; and many diocesan clergy.
This is Bishop Knestout’s first dedication of a newly built church building in our diocese since 2017.
The church, built for $10.6 million and funded by parishioners and benefactors, has seating for more than 1,100 and replaces two previous buildings that the Catholic community had outgrown since its establishment in 1943.
The Mass and Rite of Dedication included the handing over of the church by presenting the architectural plans, keys, book of all construction workers’ names and a scroll of benefactors, first to the bishop and then the pastor; the blessing of the people, walls and altar with holy water; placing and sealing into the altar the holy relics of Sts. Dominic, Thomas Aquinas, Maria Goretti, Martin de Porres, Albert the Great and Elizabeth Ann Seton; anointing the altar and walls with sacred chrism (holy oil); incensing the altar, people and walls; and lighting the altar candles and dedication candles. The final act was incensing, Adoration of and reposing the Most Blessed Sacrament into the Tabernacle for the first time.
A story on the dedication of St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish will appear in the Oct. 5 issue of The Catholic Virginian.