The Most Reverend Daniel Pilarczyk, Archbishop of Cincinnati, presided over the dedication of the recently completed Saint Bernadette Church Sunday, Nov. 22.
The celebration of this dedication was a very joyful occasion for parish.
“We are very thankful,” Rev. Bill Stockelman, St. Bernadette’s pastor said. “There have been so many disappointments over the years that it’s still sinking in that this is our new home, but the level of excitement is very high at this point.”
The original church was built in 1944 and was intended to be a temporary facility. It seated 144 people, which has been far from adequate for the parish's 700 households.
"Some of the people here today have been waiting for this day for 50 years," Stockelman said.
Over the years, there were numerous efforts to build a new church. There is a sketch of a new building dated 1960.
There was a major fund-raising effort in 2002 that raised $1.1 million in cash and pledges. But the parish never received permission from the archdiocese to proceed with construction.
Stockelman arrived at the parish in 2005 and continued with the efforts to build a new church. A second large fund drive was begun in 2007.
"We began to pray every week, and the resources appeared," Stockelman said.
Last November, Stockelman, along with 12 members of the parish, made a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France specifically to pray for their church. The group visited the site where the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, namesake and patron saint of St. Bernadette Church, in 1858.
"We went to Lourdes and we asked St. Bernadette to pray for us," Stockelman said. "Eleven days later, we received permission to build."
The new church has been built on the grounds of the first church building. The worship space in the 9,700 square foot church seats 485.
"There have been a lot of prayers that have made this possible," Stockelman said. "We really put this in God's hands and here we are. It really does feel like a miracle."
The church is located 1479 Locust Lake Road, in Amelia.
The parish will be hosting an open house for the public to view the church from 2 - 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. The church is on the Web at www.stbernadetteamelia.org. The church can be reached at (513) 753-5566.