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Archbishop blesses new crucifix at Bel Air's St. Margaret Church

Archbishop William Lori blesses the new crucifix with incense at St. Margaret Parish in Bel Air Sunday morning.
Archbishop William Lori blesses the new crucifix with incense at St. Margaret Parish in Bel Air Sunday morning. (BRYNA ZUMER | AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

A new crucifix at St. Margaret Parish, the centerpiece of the main sanctuary's $1.4 million renovation, was officially made sacred during Sunday Mass.

Archbishop William Lori arrived to bless the crucifix with incense, as well as to give the homily during morning worship in the 45-year-old Bel Air sanctuary.

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The large, white crucifix replaces the building's longtime Risen Christ figure, which was moved to the back of the room so people can see it as they leave.

"Everyone says, coming we have the crucifix and leaving we have the solution," director of liturgy Jackie Novak explained about the arrangement.

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She noted the new crucifix has received rave reviews.

"People come in and the emotions range from immediate tears and their mouths gape and almost can't breathe," Novak said.

"To have this dramatic change is just fantastic," she said. "It really draws your eye to the crucifix, the reason we are here."

"It's necessary for our liturgy to have a crucifix in the sanctuary, but we didn't want to leave the Risen Savior," she said, adding the style of the original sculpture reflected the design of the times when the building was constructed.

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"It was what was going on at the time," she said.

In his homily, Lori talked about the importance of urging people to come to church. He referred to the day's Gospel reading, where Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a feast that some people reject, which Lori said "strikes a contemporary note."

He also said the new crucifix can inspire people to be "surprised by joy."

After the talk, Lori shook the incense censer toward the crucifix and blessed it.

The church's renovation also included replacing the heating and cooling systems, electrical upgrades, replacing glass doors, painting and a new roof.

Ana Castro, architect with Baltimore-based JRS Architects, attended Sunday's Mass and said the crucifix project was "a labor of love."

She said "the goal of the project was, when you walked in, your heart would be uplifted, and I think that stayed the focus."

Castro's firm has worked with the Archdiocese of Baltimore since 1996, she said.

"It was just about trying to make this space uplifting and joyful," she said about the crucifix, adding the church committee "put in an amazing amount of time."

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