BUCKEYE — St. Henry parishioners welcomed their first official visitor to their new home May 11, who in turn blessed the two-month-old space.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blessed the chapel and church hall during the vigil Mass for the feast of the Ascension. The spaces mark the first of an ongoing multi-phase effort to permanently re-locate parish activities four-miles north of what is now called the “pastoral center” or “office location.”
“It’s a great sign of faith and unity of the parish,” the bishop said early on in his homily.
He congratulated them on working together to get this far by sharing and building upon the gifts of mind and heart.
“We have a new kind of nearness, a new way He could be closer to us than He was before He ascended into heaven,” the bishop said.
This side of heaven, that closeness meets its maximum in eucharistic adoration. The bishop described his confidence as a 5-year-old in an adoration chapel that he was not alone. He also praised the beauty of the 150-seat chapel at St. Henry, which has the words “Behold the Lamb of God” finely engraved on the wooden altar.
Jesus gave His followers a faith to build a culture of love and life, the bishop said, drawing on words from Pope Francis’ first homily. It’s something society “so badly needs,” the bishop said.
“Only hearts of faith wish to build that. Only eyes of faith can see that,” the bishop said.
It’s that willingness to proudly acknowledge their “Catholicicity” that got the space built in less than a year. As a result, Fr. Billy Kosco, pastor, said more people are aware a Catholic church exists in Buckeye now. Some, such as those who live “uptown,” never learned of the previous location.
“We’re trying to maintain parish ambassadors at the new location as much as we can,” Fr. Kosco told The Catholic Sun. “Our goal is to get the office up there so we’re more cohesive.”
He envisions construction starting in the next few months to avoid future price increases. Filling out the new property is such a high priority that a construction hat is passed along right behind the regular collection basket at every Mass. St. Henry also sold its first set of personal kneelers, which serves as a small fundraiser for the future worship space.
The next phase of construction will bring a two-story office building to the mission-style property and single-story space for ministries to meet. Administration and classroom space remain at 128 S. Third Street while all liturgies, including a third added on Sundays, are held at the new space on Lower Buckeye Road just east of Miller Road.
It’s the fourth parish home according to St. Henry parish roots traced to 1906. When it’s complete, Fr. Kosco envisions a cloister-like feel with a courtyard in the middle.