Visitation bids farewell to church during renovation
By Albert de Zutter
Catholic Key Editor
KANSAS CITY - It wasn't Christmas or Easter, but Visitation Parish Church was chock full of parishioners at all six weekend Masses plus a special ceremony Sunday evening, April 14. They were saying goodbye, temporarily, to their church and moving their sacred symbols to their school about a block away.
Albert de Zutter/Key photo
The front of Visitation Church will be preserved in the renovation, which will enlarge the worship space.
Their worship space for the next 26 months, while the church is being rebuilt, will be the school's gymnasium for weekend Masses, and a chapel in the school for daily Masses.
"Even when change is good, we grieve for what we leave behind," Father Norman Rotert, pastor, said in opening the transition ceremony.
The first Eucharist in the parish was celebrated on Sept. 5, 1909, when 12 families came together at the home of Msgr. Thomas McDonald's family. In the 93 years the church has been in the neighborhood, more than 5,000 people were baptized there, and 2,668 couples were married.
"You are an image of the loving God to this community," Father Rotert said.
At the end of the farewell service in the church, parishioners formed an honor guard along the sidewalk, across Main Street and the length of the playground to the school. Sacred symbols, including sacramental oils, a plaque of Archbishop Oscar Romero, a funeral pall, a baptismal dress, a crucifix, were carried solemnly through the honor guard to their new home. Father Rotert brought up the rear, carrying a ciborium containing the Eucharist.
The ceremony concluded with prayers, meditations and songs in Visitation Parish's temporary worship space in the school.