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Resurrection believes it was worth the wait as the parish celebrates the renovated church

ELLICOTT CITY – The culmination of a long wait for a new worship service finally happened for patient parishioners on May 17 in Ellicott City, where 700 people filled the completely renovated and reconstructed Church of the Resurrection to celebrate new beginnings.

The grateful congregation prayed and applauded as Archbishop William E. Lori led a dedication Mass that ushered in a new era for a parish that has thrived in Howard County for the past fifty years.

As Monsignor John A. Dietzenbach, the 15-year pastor of the Church of the Resurrection, joined him for the dedication service, Archbishop Lori praised the outcome of the reconstruction/renovation, which withstood a series of setbacks after the planning phase. started in 2015. Much of the funding for the new building came from a capital campaign.

Archbishop William E. Lori praised the multi-million dollar reconstruction/renovation of the Church of the Resurrection during the dedication Mass on May 17, 2024 in Ellicott City. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

“The renewal of this church is more than a facelift, more than the expansion and furnishing of a hall in which we gather,” Archbishop Lori said. “This beautifully transformed church speaks to us of the mysteries of redemption that will be celebrated here for generations to come, God willing.”

The project, which was completed by Lewis Contracting Company, was first stalled by a pair of devastating “millennial floods” that ravaged nearby historic Old Ellicott City, located along the then-flooding Patapsco River, in 2016 and 2018. That prompted the provincial government to impose a temporary moratorium on development, citing concerns about stormwater management in watersheds that include the site of the Church of the Resurrection.

After the lifting of the moratorium, which lasted nearly two years, the COVID pandemic struck in the spring of 2020 – the original year planned for the opening of the new church. The subsequent lockdown, supply shortages and the skyrocketing price of building materials caused the project to be further postponed.

“All the delays have put us about four years behind. Two years ago we broke ground at Pentecost. It is fitting that two years later we hold our first Sunday Mass at Pentecost in our new church. Our “Vision 2020” (campaign goals) became “Vision 2024,” said Monsignor Dietzenbach, who has led the project since its inception. “It was worth the wait.”

Parishioners, visiting priests, Archbishop Lori and Monsignor Dietzenbach basked in the beauty of the expanded, renovated church and its first full hall. The parish, which has 2,400 families, had attended Mass for the past two years under a 4,000-square-foot heated tent on the property.

Archbishop Lori marveled at the dramatic transformation, standing in a reinvented spot where the gymnasium of Resurrection-St. Paul School, which has been located on the site since 1966.

Church of the Resurrection is part of a pastorate with St. Paul’s Church. It dates back to 1838 in Ellicott City.

“This process, from beginning to completion, was like an Easter mystery,” Archbishop Lori said, drawing laughter from the congregation. “Through the challenges of fundraising, the pain of demolition, the pain of delays and price increases, not to mention the banishment of worshiping in a tent in hot and cold weather. You didn’t get to this point without suffering the cross!”

“As we look around us tonight at a transformed worship service, we can say that the Resurrection Church has experienced a resurrection,” Archbishop Lori added.

“It is the same space in which your community has worshiped for years, the same space that has never quite hidden its origins as a gymnasium, the same space where you listened to the voice of Christ in the Bible, where many of you and your children were baptized, confirmed , reconciled, where you all shared week after week in the mystery of the Eucharist.”

Planning for the renovation of the Church of the Resurrection in Ellicott City began in 2015. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

Speaking to his parishioners near the end of the dedication service, which lasted more than two hours, Monsignor Dietzenbach – who together with the archbishop led a long pre-service procession to the new building by turning a ceremonial key to unlock the front doors to open – to the worshipers: “You have been so helpful, so good at putting up with so much.”

After the service, he added, “I looked at the faces of all the people I know (during the dedication). I was so happy for them, knowing how long they had waited for this and how happy they are. I (finally) feel like I can sleep tonight.”

Notable among the features of the extensively reconstructed church is a collection of nine stained glass windows, which were part of St. Brigid in Baltimore, which closed in 2019. A statue of Jesus, Saint Mary and Joseph also came from St. Brigid.

Also included is a shrine with a new altar made in Peru, which arrived four days before the dedication; a tabernacle that came from St. Dominic in Baltimore; a new audiovisual system and organ; a sound system from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore, new tile flooring and four additional bathrooms and additional kitchen space.

Cathy Hanks, chair of the church’s liturgy committee and a parishioner for seven years, was instrumental in providing advice and suggestions on the practical needs of the new excavations.

“My input was about the position. It has to work for masses and gatherings, like the new coffee bar and gathering space for church and school activities downstairs,” Hanks said. “We added another elevator. Accommodating disabled people was very important in the new bathrooms. Each doorway is wide enough for wheelchairs.”

Hanks broke down in tears as she spoke about the Dedication Mass and the proclamation displayed in the building by Howard County Executive Calvin Hall, who proclaimed that May 17 would remain “Church of the Resurrection Day” in the county.

“My only problem with the Mass was not wanting to cry so much,” she said.

Jeanne Dell’ Acqua, a parishioner for 48 years, said she is thrilled to be able to visit such a beautiful church after such a long wait. But she quickly added, “Community has always been the (main) attraction of the Church of the Resurrection.”

To view more photos, click on the slideshow below or to order prints, visit our Smugmug Gallery here.

Dedication Mass of the Church of the Resurrection on May 17, 2024 in Ellicott City. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)
Dedication Mass of the Church of the Resurrection on May 17, 2024 in Ellicott City. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)
Dedication Mass of the Church of the Resurrection on May 17, 2024 in Ellicott City. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)
Dedication Mass of the Church of the Resurrection on May 17, 2024 in Ellicott City. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)
Dedication Mass of the Church of the Resurrection on May 17, 2024 in Ellicott City. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)
Dedication Mass of the Church of the Resurrection on May 17, 2024 in Ellicott City. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)
Dedication Mass of the Church of the Resurrection on May 17, 2024 in Ellicott City. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)
Dedication Mass of the Church of the Resurrection on May 17, 2024 in Ellicott City. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)
Dedication Mass of the Church of the Resurrection on May 17, 2024 in Ellicott City. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

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