April 24, 2024

Nonnette C. Bennett
Catholic churches are canonically erected and a fitting solemn rite dedicates the church. As a member of the Bishop Carlito J. Cenzon Foundation, Inc., I have had the pleasure of watching the late Bishop Emeritus Carlito Cenzon dedicate two churches — the Abatan Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish Church and the Bakun Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Church — that were assisted by funds raised in the Bishop Otto Golf Cup.
There were three other churches that the “golf for-a-cause” raised funds for the La Trinidad San Jose Parish Church, the Atab Divine Mercy Parish Church and the recent Bad-ayan Christ the King Parish Church. The last three churches were dedicated by Most Rev. Victor Bendico. To be among the people who lift prayers in thanksgiving for these places of worship is a blessing.
We drove from Baguio at 4:30 a.m. with travel passes on Aug. 6 to represent the foundation members in Bad-ayan, Baculongan Sur, Buguias, Benguet. Arriving at 7:30 a.m., we were treated with brewed coffee, boiled sweet potato, and a hearty breakfast. The unfinished rectory was humming with the arrival of the priests who were also celebrating the Feast of Saint John Marie Vianney, the patron saint of the clergy. We had enough time to chat before the 9:00 a.m. celebration. Below, the church yard was slowly filling up with parishioners from the 21 “gimongs” around. They were friendly and excited to participate and witness the blessing of their new church.
The closed doors of the church were the first to be blessed. Then the entrance procession of the Bishop and ministers proceeded to the sanctuary. Rev. Fr. Ronald Ablasa Jr. welcomed the guests and church members to the rites. Giving the history of the new church, Rev. Fr. Dexter Martin, chancellor of the Diocese of Baguio, read the Decree of Canonical Erection of the Christ the King Parish.
The significant parts of the dedication are: First, the blessing and sprinkling of water as a sign of repentance and as a reminder of their baptism, and to purify the altar. The salt is mixed in the water and sprinkled around so that every attack of the enemy may be repulsed.
Second, the blessing of the ambo or pulpit. The prayer includes, “Grant that those who proclaim your message from this ambo may show us how to direct our lives, so that we will walk in the ways of Christ.”
Third, anointing of the altar and the walls of the church. The anointing with the Chrism makes the altar a symbol of Christ, who, before all others, is and is called “The Anointed One.”
Fourth, incensation of the altar and the church. Incense is burned on the altar to signify that Christ’s sacrifice, there perpetuated in mystery, ascends to God as an odor of sweetness and also to signify that the people’s prayer rises up pleasing and acceptable, reaching the throne of God.
Fifth, covering of the altar. The covering of the altar indicates that the Christian altar is the altar of the Eucharistic sacrifice and the table of the Lord; around it priests and people, by one and the same rite but with a difference of function, celebrate the memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection and partake of His supper.
Sixth, lighting of the altar and the church. The lighting of the altar, which is followed by the lighting of the church, reminds us that Christ is “a light to enlighten the nations,” his brightness shines out in the Church and through it in the whole family.
Seventh,rite of blessing of chalice and paten. The intention of reserving these vessels exclusively for the celebration of the Eucharist is made manifest before the community of the faithful by a special blessing, which is appropriate to impart during the mass.
Eight, presentation of the gifts.
Ninth, blessing of the tabernacle. The tabernacle for eucharistic reservation is a reminder of Christ’s presence that comes about in the sacrifice of the mass. But it is also a reminder of the brothers and sisters we must cherish in charity, since it was in fulfillment of the sacramental ministry received from Christ that the Church first began to reserve the eucharist for the sake of the sick and the dying.
The retablo or upright panel, intricately carved and highly decorated. Its wooden frame contains ledges and panels behind and above the altar. The retablo of this church is so beautiful and the statues of Christ the King, Virgin Mary and St. Pedro Calunsod are different from other churches that I’ve seen. Perhaps, it is the soft colors or tones of the images that make them unique.
Lunch was in typical Benguet style. There were some six pig heads that were baked crisp to show how many pigs covered the traditional watwat or take-home gift pork meat. The pork was cooked in varied dishes. There was fish and beef too. There was pinapaitan, too. But we raved about the Romaine dipped in toasted sesame dressing. Prepared by many hands, the food was awesome.
There was something different about this parish. The people were warm and very organized.
We were able to visit the Spanish Trail in Atok on the way home. This was a blessed day.