Bishop Blesses Prefab Metal Church in Sandhill, Ga.
'You, the people, are the Church'
by Deborah F. Albury
Trinity Sunday (June 11) was a special day for members of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, Glenmary's mission in Sandhill, Ga. Savannah Bishop J. Kevin Boland made his pastoral visit on that day and blessed the donated 30-by-62-foot prefab metal building that serves as the worship and gathering space for the Spanish-speaking Catholics in Long County. Mass is now celebrated there each Sunday.
Much hard work went into preparing for this occasion. The church had been cleaned, the ladies had cooked, the choir had practiced, and a new sign with the name of this relatively new Catholic community had been erected. Catholics first began gathering for Mass at Sandhill under a tent in 2004.
The Mass began with a spirited rendition of Alabaré a Mi Señor (I Will Praise My Lord). After Father Brian LaBurt, the pastor of Sandhill (as well as Claxton and Pembroke) proclaimed the Gospel in Spanish, Bishop Boland approached the pulpit to give the homily. He drew laughs when he commented that Father Brian was going to translate for him, but that after Mass he would ask someone who was bilingual if Father Brian had, in truth, done a faithful translation of what he had said!
This Trinity Sunday was special in another way for two young people from the Sandhill mission. Lesly and Victor Flores, daughter and son of the choir director, received their First Communion from the bishop.
At the end of Mass, Bishop Boland circulated around the church sprinkling everything—and everyone—with holy water. "I am here to bless the church," he explained, "and you, the people, are the Church!"
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2006 Glenmary Challenge.