Italian-made installation features Peter's crossed keys, relics of St. Thomas a'Becket, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Fr. Maksym says
MOUNT CLEMENS — St. Peter Parish in Mount Clemens installed a new altar that was consecrated by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron on Aug. 28.
The Italian-made marble altar with emerald-colored columns reflects the original high altar of the sanctuary, with the crossed keys of St. Peter etched on the front of the altar, giving the piece a unique feature for the parish’s namesake.
Fr. John Maksym, moderator of the Northeast Macomb Family of Parishes, who primarily serves at St. Peter Parish, said the new altar better complements the rest of the church’s sanctuary as opposed to the temporary wooden altar that was installed in the 1960s.
“When I came here last October, I realized they had this wooden altar from the late '60s, and it didn’t fit at all with the beautiful marble sanctuary that is St. Peter’s,” Fr. Maksym told Detroit Catholic. “This is one of the oldest parishes in Macomb County, and long story short, I felt we had to get an altar that matches this sanctuary.”
Fr. Maksym brought it up with parishioners, who liked to the idea, and on Christmas Eve, a parishioner — who wishes to remain anonymous — gifted Fr. Maksym with a $27,000 check to order an altar made specifically for the parish that would match the Tridentine high altar that was used before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
Fr. Maksym wanted the new altar to create a sense of continuity between the old and the new.
“I think sometimes, in some parishes in some parts of the Catholic Church, we have a tendency to think the Second Vatican Council was some sort of crazy, radical change from Church history; and it wasn’t,” Fr. Maksym said. “Vatican II was a continuation, an advancement of the story of the Church. Here were these great fathers of the church, like Karol Wojtyla, who later became St. John Paul II, reaching back to the Patristic Fathers and before the Patristic Fathers, the first Masses in the catacombs, saying, 'How we can be more like our origins?'”
After the homily on Aug. 28, Archbishop Vigneron rubbed Chrism oil on the altar and installed relics of St. Thomas a’Becket and St. Elizabeth Anne Seton — whose birthday is, providentially, Aug. 28.
The altar was dressed by Carmelite Sisters of St. Joseph, who have a presence in the Family of Parishes, which includes St. Hubert Parish in Harrison Township, St. Louis Parish in Clinton Township and San Francesco Parish in Clinton Township.
Several families stopped by the church on the following Monday, after student drop-off at nearby St. Mary School in Mount Clemens to get a closer look at the new altar.
and parents are learning a great deal from this,” Fr. Maksym said. “We are
going over with students how the priest used to say Mass, learning about these
great traditions that can really bring out the true meaning of the Second
Vatican Council. It’s not some sort of radical, crazy, liberal set of
documents. It’s a wonderful statement of where the Church is supposed to
advance, very much akin to what Archbishop Vigneron is doing now, having us
become missionary disciples, going out into the world.”
The new altar comes at a time at St. Peter’s when Fr. Maksym and fellow priest Fr. Christopher Muir have encouraged other changes at the parish’s spiritual life.
St. Peter recently restored the confessionals at the parish and encouraged parishioners to take advantage of the graces of the sacrament of reconciliation. Fr. Maksym moved confession to an hour before the Wednesday 6 p.m. Mass for families who might be busy with Saturday morning sports.
Maksym estimated he and Fr. Muir heard about 3,000 confessions during this past
Lent, and parishioners have expressed an interest in using the new altar for
Eucharistic adoration during Lent and Advent in what Fr. Maksym calls
“Catholicism on the Offensive,” using the sacraments, devotions and traditions
of the Church to encourage spiritual renewal.
The renewal, Fr. Maksym said, is connected with the new altar.
“People really love the aesthetic beauty between the high altar and the new altar,” Fr. Maksym said. “They love Peter’s keys on the front of the altar because it’s so symbolic of who Peter was and is, both as the first pope and as prince of the Apostles. Several people have been asking when we can have adoration at the new altar. We had about 1,000 people come on Monday during the first day of school, just to see the altar.”
The wooden altar is being moved to a new chapel at St. Mary Elementary School for those who have grown attached to an altar that served the parish for the past half-century.
“The biggest thing the altar brings to the table, no pun intended, is it completes this beautiful sanctuary,” Fr. Maksym said. “It is very obvious the wooden altar that was there was always intended to be a temporary altar. But a lot of people over the past 50 years became very acquainted with it and loved the old wooden altar. We are now constructing a chapel at the grade school where we’ll use the wooden altar. So we’re not letting it go out of commission; we're just putting it into new use.”