The beautiful rite of Order of Dedication and Consecration for the new St. John Henry Newman Chapel was celebrated by the Most Rev. Edward M. Rice, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, on August 22, 2021, the annual feast of Mary Queen of Heaven and Earth, on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, MO.
The afternoon’s events began with the holiness of the procession to the Chapel. Upon arrival, members of the Newman Center staff and representatives of the architectural firm presented Bishop Edward M. Rice with the blueprints and a key to the new chapel. Then Fr. Laurent, Newman Center Chaplain, opened the doors to the chapel and Bishop Rice proclaimed, “Enter the gates of the Lord with thanksgiving, his courts with songs of praise.” The entire assembly then entered behind the clergy, which included Bp. Emeritus John J. Leibrecht, area priests and deacons, and consecrated religious, seminarians, faithful, and friends. Many saw the new chapel for the first time.
“The light coming through the stained-glass windows was just exquisite, the beauty of the statues and stations of the cross,” said Sister Judith Bell, FSM, Mother Superior, Franciscan Sisters of Mary. “It was an afternoon filled with praise and thanksgiving. God be praised to experience this special consecration and dedication!”
“The Mass of Dedication was truly amazing. I had never experienced something like that and it was so awesome to be able to serve at the Mass of Dedication for the church that I use most,” said Jared Koehler, SEMO student and server at the liturgy. “I will never forget the moment I walked in as the Crucifer, the choir was singing and there was no one in the Chapel since the faithful are the last to enter in this liturgy. It was like entering the gates of heaven with the choir singing and seeing the beautiful church and sacred space we now get to worship in.”
Following the readings of the gospel, Bp. Edward M. Rice placed the relics of St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope St. Pius X, and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in the altar. The latter two saints are co-patrons of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Then Bishop followed with the prayer of dedication and the anointing of the altar and walls of the chapel. The altar, the walls, and the Assembly were then incensed and the altar candles and the candles around the entire chapel were lit as a sign of rejoicing and a visual reminder that Jesus is our true light. Following communion, Bp. Rice conducted the procession of the Blessed Sacrament through the Chapel, and the Blessed Sacrament was placed in the tabernacle for the first time.
“The completion and dedication of this magnificent chapel is a remarkable testament of God’s Providence, as manifested through the generosity of His faithful people,” said Deacon Thomas Schumer, Director of the St. John Henry Newman Catholic Student Center. “It is no coincidence that our chapel was dedicated on August 22, the annual feast celebrating Mary as queen of heaven and earth. The Communion of Saints in heaven and many saints in the making here on earth have helped us bring this project to completion on time and budget.”
“It’s a great honor and privilege for me to add my name to the list of selfless men who have served as chaplain at CCM/Cape-Girardeau,” said Fr. Laurent Okitakatshi, Chaplain, St. John Henry Newman Center. “As I was invited by Bishop Rice to open the doors of the new chapel on the day of the dedication, I remembered St. John Damascene’s words: ‘shepherd me, Lord, and shepherd with me.’ Now begins the real work: lead more people into the Father’s House, into friendship with Jesus.”