Holy Day Mass Offers Preview of WCC’s Future Immaculate Conception Oratory
On Wednesday, December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Wyoming Catholic College community celebrated the first Mass in its new oratory (almost complete) on the corner of Third Street and Garfield. The building, which will be called Immaculate Conception (the name of the first church erected on the site more than a century ago) was filled to bursting with students, with faculty and staff and their families, and with members of the wider community who could not pass up the occasion of the first Mass in this building for six decades or more.
“This is such a joyous occasion,” said Dr. Glenn Arbery, the College’s president. “The opportunity to celebrate Mass in this place—on the very feast whose name it bears—is the perfect conclusion to what has been a difficult yet rewarding semester. I can think of nothing that would more clearly show the hand of Divine Providence. Gathering the community here in this sacred space is a source of tremendous encouragement, and should be a sign of great hope to all our friends and benefactors.”
In his homily, Monsignor Daniel Seiker, the College’s Roman Rite chaplain, spoke of the restoration of the church as an analogy to the restoration of humankind through Mary. The church was “standing room only,” truly; the chairs normally used for the celebration of Mass were left behind in the College’s Orchard Building chapel—a space-saving strategy in order to squeeze as many community members as possible into the building and a reminder that this liturgy was a “preview” rather than a permanent move. After the Mass was finished, the altar and sacred furnishings were returned to the current chapel in the Orchard Building. That space will be used through the end of the semester, with daily use of the new oratory beginning in the Spring.
There is plenty of work that must be done in order to make the oratory appropriate for permanent liturgical use. Pews, stained glass windows, stations, statues, and a more fitting ambo and altar will all come into focus as time and funds allow. But it was wonderful to see the church restored to its original purpose once again. The building, acquired for the College by the late Chuck Guschewksy (who was a member of its Board of Directors at the time), has been many things during its secular career, including a funeral home, a rock-climbing shop, a theater, and—most recently—a private residence.
“Today,” Dr. Arbery said, “decades after Mass was first celebrated under its roof, it becomes once again the sacred space it was built to be. Wyoming Catholic College is greatly blessed.”