By Kirsten Bublitz, The Catholic Sun
SEDONA — Bishop John Dolan installed Father Ignatius Mazanowski as pastor of St. John Vianney parish during the vigil Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday. Meaning “rejoice” Sunday, Laetare Sunday was a fitting day for Father Ignatius to be installed and the altar dedicated. Members of the community were the first to congratulate Rev. Ignatius and dress the newly dedicated altar.
Bishop Dolan recalled the day after he was installed as bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix; his first stop was Sedona.
“I came to Sedona and [Father Ignatius] opened his heart and the church. It was very evident to me that here was a pastor,” Bishop Dolan said.
“Pope Francis reminds us that a good pastor, a good shepherd, isn’t just a spiritual director but a spiritual accompanier. One who walks with. [Father Ignatius], you are a holy man set apart for the sake of God’s people, and you do it in a beautiful way. From grief to grace, you bring people to a sense of healing as you accompany [them].”
Father Ignatius was ordained May 28, 2011, and has been at St. John Vianney since May 2021. He is also the rector of the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
“It was a great blessing to be with Bishop John Dolan, and [I] felt affirmed as pastor of the parish. It was a very joy filled day that I will always remember,” Father Ignatius said.
The Gospel was about the healing of the blind man, and Bishop Dolan reminded the community of St. John Vianney that they have a pastor who truly sees them. Their parish shepherd looks them in the eye as an equal, as Christ looks at them.
“It is very important that you see this wonderful pastor who looks you in the eye. The word ‘eye’ stands for Engage Your Equal. That’s what Jesus was: Emmanuel, God with us, not God above us. God with us, looking at us, and having eye contact with us.
“Father Ignatius you are a man who has eye contact. You engage your equal. You don’t stand above. You were set apart, but you stand with them. And, in the manner of Christ, you, too, are Emmanuel – God with us.”
As part of the installation ritual, the parish staff and pastoral and finance councils surrounded Father Ignatius, moments before he would become pastor, as he publicly acknowledged his need for their guidance and advice.
After embracing these members of the community, Father Ignatius made his oath and led St. John Vianney parish in a profession of faith, his first time as their pastor.
The rejoicing continued at the dedication of the altar. Father Kieran Kleczewski, the previous pastor of St. John Vianney who passed away in September 2020, had organized for the altar to be built but never had it consecrated. Now, Father Kieran’s dream of having the altar consecrated was becoming a reality, another reason to rejoice.
“We come to this beautiful altar recognizing a need for us to gather around this altar looking at each other, as we look at Christ, and He looks at us,” Bishop Dolan said.
Bishop Dolan said that his eyes had recently been opened to seeing the altar in a new light, after celebrating Mass in Lebanon just a week prior with a Marionite Church of the Eastern Rite.
“They treat the altar as their friend. They say, ‘We’re so happy to be here in your company, oh friend.’ Every week, you come to see your friend the altar where holy things happen, where we, as members of the Body of Christ, come to celebrate our liturgy. This holy friend, the altar which we will anoint today, brings about our Lord, who looks at us eye to eye, befriends us, and loves us into eternal life.”
“The altar is, indeed, the cross of Christ, as the cross of Christ is the altar,” Bishop Dolan said. “Christ dies on the altar; he died on the cross for our sins. When we look to this altar, we see that this is the beginning of our peace.”
As the community gazed upon the altar, they called on saints to be present for the special moment. The relics of St. John Vianney and St. Philomena were repositioned in the altar, and it was anointed and incensed. Members of the community dressed the altar and lit candles in preparation for the liturgy of the Eucharist.
Father Ignatius later reflected on that special day of rejoicing when he was installed and the altar dedicated.
“After [the dedication], the sanctuary and the altar felt different. [I felt] a stronger presence of God there. That’s the whole idea behind consecrating an altar,” said Father Ignatius.
Much consecration of an altar and installation of a pastor called for rejoicing, Father Ignatius encourages everyone to go to the ordination of a priest or deacon to experience the joy of life in the Church.
“It is a really special time where you see the Church in action,” Father Ignatius said. “The authority is passed from Jesus to the Pope to the bishops to the priests and deacons. To see the authority handed over in person helps to make the connection of what’s behind all the sacraments – the sacred power that’s passed down throughout the centuries. It is a privilege and an honor for me to receive and be part of that.”