11/30/2017 Formal ritual marks suspension of use of Holy Angels Church, Hamilton
Gift of Baptism – Clergy from St. Raphael-Holy Angels pray by the baptismal font during the Ritual For Suspending the Use of Holy Angels Church. Joe Moore photos
From The Heart – Choir members, seated in the front pews, lead the congregation in singing appropriate hymns during the various parts of the ritual.
The second of a two-part plan to mark the closing of Hamilton’s Holy Angels Church took place Nov. 19. There, faithful who have regarded the landmark South Broad Street Catholic house of worship as their spiritual home gathered for what is known as the Ritual For Suspending the Use of a Church.
According to Father Gene Daguplo, pastor of St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, guidelines that were provided by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., required that the ritual be performed since a final Mass had already been celebrated in July.
Holy Angels Church was one of two worship sites of St. Raphael-Holy Angels Parish, a merged parish established as part of the Trenton Ward Study in 2005. The church, which had seen lower Mass attendance and deteriorating physical conditions in recent years, had been included in the consultation and deliberations that occurred during the Diocese’s Faith In Our Future initiative, which stretched over 18 months. Among the many factors considered in that process were Mass attendance and financial stability. It was noted that Mass attendance in Holy Angels was only about 25 percent of the available capacity.
Complications surfaced in January, when the need for a number of serious and costly repairs in Holy Angels Church was made known. The determination was reached that the repairs were not financially feasible and that operations were to be transferred from the church to the St. Raphael site. Soon after, a Coptic community using space in St. Gregory the Great Church, Hamilton Square, expressed interest in purchasing the Holy Angels site.
Explaining the Ritual For Suspending the Use of a Church, Father Daguplo indicated in a parish bulletin message that prior to final signatures to the Contract of Sale, the Parish Implementation Team was responsible to ensure all holy and consecrated items are “deconsecrated” in the church before new owners take possession of the property. Since the building will continue to be used by Egyptian Coptic Christians, only certain items needed to be removed. The solemn ritual held on Nov. 19, he said, suspended the use of the baptistery, confessionals, Stations of the Cross, altars of the Blessed Virgin Mary and patron saints, tabernacle, ambo and altar.
Father Daguplo noted that his parishioners knowing that Holy Angels will continue to be used by the Egyptian Coptic Christians “contributed a lot to the easing of the tensions in closing a church.
“They are happy that this will still be used as a house of worship of a Christian group that shares our Holy Eucharist and Sacraments and honors the Blessed Virgin Mary and other saints. Their memory of the building as a church will remain every time they pass by or enter the church in the days to come.”