“Many see the old church in new construction”

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NEW YORK, March 27, 2007 – On Saturday March 31, 2007 at 10:30 a.m., the Most Reverend William Murphy, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, will dedicate the new St. Therese of Lisieux church in Montauk.

Concelebrating the Mass with Bishop Murphy will be Bishop Emil Wcela, Auxiliary Bishop of the Eastern Vicariate of the Diocese, Monsignor Peter A. Libasci, pastor of St. Therese parish and other priests from within the diocese.

St. Therese has been in construction for the past five years and, because of its location on the easternmost tip of Long Island, has been built on a tract of land that receives a considerable amount of wind, water and salt exposure. According to Monsignor Libasci, the church has been “probably one of the most difficult to build because of its location.” The old church building succumbed to this same abuse and was closed to public use in July of 1995 and demolished in November 2002.

In June of 1999, Monsignor Libasci came to the pastorate of St. Therese and along with the parish Building Committee, renewed the effort to upgrade the parish facilities, which had deteriorated over time. The new church evokes memories of the old church building while incorporating modernizations that will make it a comfortable home for Montauk’s Catholic community.

With the ability to accommodate approximately 530 people, the new building’s two levels encompasses 20,000 gross square feet and stands as an excellent example of the Tudor-style specific to the Montauk area.

The new church has retained 26 stained glass windows, which were removed from the old church in 1989 prior to its demolition. These windows, originally installed in 1933, remain excellent renditions of the Gothic Revival style that was common to many South German and Bavarian studios of the late 19th and 20th century. In addition, two rose window frames were removed and reinstalled to complement the 35 new art glass windows which were commissioned for the new church.

“Many are awestruck when they’ve seen it,” said Msgr. Libasci regarding the new church. “Many say they see the old church in the new church’s construction.”

The Rite of Dedication

The dedication of a new church is full of meaning and tradition. Before anyone enters, the church will be handed over to Bishop Murphy. The architects and builders take part in this, handing over the plans. Then the pastor, Msgr. Libasci will unlock the doors and all will enter, singing a hymn.

Each part of the church building is blessed as the Mass progresses. The Bishop blesses the water in the baptismal font and sprinkles the walls of the church, the altar and the people with the blessed water. The Liturgy of the Word continues, as the Bishop reminds all of the mysteries of Christ that are proclaimed from the ambo (elevated area where the Gospel is proclaimed). 

After the Homily, the Rite of Dedication begins. The Litany of the Saints is sung, then the Prayer of Dedication is said and the altar is anointed with Sacred Chrism. This is one of the highlights of the dedication as the Bishop anoints the entire altar table with the sweet-scented Chrism. In this prayer we are reminded of all the grace-filled events that happen around the altar, in particular the celebration of the Eucharist. The walls of the church are anointed with the Chrism. Then the walls and the people are honored with incense, that “as this building is filled with fragrance, so may your Church fill the world with the fragrance of Christ.” All the candles are then lighted and Mass continues with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Following Holy Communion, the Blessed Sacrament chapel containing the Tabernacle will be consecrated.   At the conclusion of the Mass, the Bishop sends the congregation out, filled with the blessings of this joyous celebration.

Though Catholics had been celebrating Mass in Montauk since the 1760s, the first church did not sprout until 1929-1930 thanks to a burgeoning French Canadian Catholic community in Long Island’s easternmost point. Then named the Church of the Little Flower, because of the founding priest’s devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux, the completed church building would eventually be dedicated in 1935 by Bishop Molloy. In 1950, full parish status was conferred to St. Therese, and seven years later the Diocese of Rockville Centre was formed out of the then expansive Diocese of Brooklyn.

EDITOR’S NOTE:         Media tours available upon request.

DIRECTIONS:              St. Therese of Lisieux

                                  55 S Etna Ave
                                  Montauk, NY 11954-5350

Take the Southern State Parkway East until the Robert Moses Causeway South, which you will take to exit RM1E toward Route 27-E/Montauk. Make a slight right turn onto POW/MIA Memorial Highway/Sunrise Highway by taking the ramp on the left. You will be on this road for approximately 50 miles. Turn left onto NY-27 East/Montauk Highway and follow it for approximately 10 miles. Turn left onto Main Street/NY-27 and follow this for approximately 15 miles. Turn right onto The Plaza, and then turn right onto South Etna Avenue.

About The Diocese of Rockville Centre
The Diocese of Rockville Centre (www.drvc.org) was formed in 1957 and covers 1,222 square miles in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.  The diocese serves approximately 1.4 million Catholics (total population in both counties is approximately 3.3 million).  There are 134 parishes in 115 towns.  Last year over 20,000 baptisms, 18,000 confirmations, 20,000 first communions and 5,000 marriages took place in the diocese.  There are 2,137 students in Catholic kindergarten, 23,825 in primary or elementary school, 12,628 in secondary school and 3,300 in higher institutions.  There are 76 Catholic elementary and high schools and one Catholic college in the diocese.  Catholic Health Services of Long Island consists of five hospitals, three nursing homes, two home-care agencies, two senior housing complexes, a community-based home for those with special needs and a hospice.  Last year, Catholic Charities assisted more than 80,000 individuals who are poor, vulnerable and disadvantaged on Long Island. 



Sean P. Dolan
Director of Communications
516-678-5800, ext. 625
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