New church completes dream for St. John the Evangelist faithful
Parishioners enter the new St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church for its dedication Mass.
VIERA VOICE Brenda Eggert Brader
Passionate, yet massive music playing to the glory of God rose up from the choir loft and filled the sanctuary of the new St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Viera beginning the dedication Mass on Jan. 20. The $7 million building, constructed in the basilica style, seats 1,050 worshippers in gently curving red oak pews for the five planned weekly Sunday Masses. The pews were packed with parishioners.
“This has been our dream and it has been so great to happen,” said the Rev. John Britto, one of two priests from the congregation of the Holy Cross. “A special type of technology was used in the building. The building itself is not the grandeur type of church, but at the same time there is a graciousness to it.”
The Most Rev. John Noonan, Bishop of Orlando, was the presider of the liturgy for the dedication with the Most Rev. Bernard J. Harrington, Bishop Emeritus of Winona, as the concelebrating bishop.
The celebration day was selected on Jan. 20 for “it is the feast day of Basil Anthony Moreau, founder of the congregation of the Holy Cross and we belong to that order, so it is appropriate that we have it on that day for it is very prominent on our calendar,” Britto said.
The service included the Catholic Mass adding gestures and symbolism and a key entrusted to Noonan. The regular readings, homily and creed were cited with singing of the litany of the saints. Noonan placed the relics of the priests’ saints in the altar and smeared the altar with baptism oil. Incense rose up toward heaven as so may the “prayers go to heaven and raise to the lord,” Britto said.
Following the dedication, a reception was held in the educational building on campus where services had been held before the new church was constructed. From the time the parish first formed in 2001, the church has gone from 200 to 2,300 families, according to the Rev. R. Bradley Beaupre, who has been with the church for 9½ years and is planning his retirement.
The church’s 19,000 square feet has a 58-foot high nave ceiling with an intricate double barrel vault of curving planes like traditional basilicas drawing the eye upward and toward the east-facing rose window and altar wall in the sanctuary. Twelve of the large arched windows and smaller clerestory windows will feature stained glass, installed behind hurricane-impact glass in the steel-framed structure to withstand Category 5 hurricane-force winds.
“It takes two months for each window to be made,” Britto said. “Trying to bring in all the aspects of John, we have 12 windows to be stained glass and 12 statements we have drawn out of the Gospel of John.”
Thrilled with the new church, a couple parishioners shared their thoughts.
“I have been here all week and every time I come in here (sanctuary) I cry,” said Gloria Teed, a church usher. “It is spectacular.”
“I have been waiting for this a long time since we were meeting in the government building,” added Jacqueline Tsarnas, a parishioner from Viera.