A light rain fell in the gathering dusk as hundreds of parishioners came for the dedication of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church on Saturday evening.
Children played in the spacious lobby and ushers stood formally by as parishioners streamed into the sanctuary, a striking combination of wood beams, stone and stucco, punctuated by deep sage carpeting and windows that bring Nevada's mountains and deserts to the fore.
Lights cast a soft golden glow as the congregation and chorus joined in song, "All are welcome in this place."
Bishop Phillip F. Strahling, leader of the Catholic diocese of Northern Nevada, performed the ceremony at the new church on Lompa Lane, accompanied by many others, including St. Teresa's pastor, Father Jerry Hanley.
St. Teresa of Avila now stands as the largest church in the diocese and it's a design that has united the congregation rather than dividing it, according to Sister Marie McLoin, pastoral assistant.
"We love the openness," she said. "People now have a gathering place in the lobby and the church itself is left as a sacred place for prayer."
"The whole staff is in this building," said usher Rose Marie Price. "Before we were spread out all over."
St. Teresa of Avila Church on King Street had been home to the Catholic congregation in Carson City since the 1860s, but the church has seen an increase in membership during the past 20 years -- to about 1,900 parishioners -- and outgrew the facility.
Construction of the 32,000-square-foot building began in June 1999 and services were first conducted in November 2001. Education director Mary Ann Randall lauded everyone who contributed to the process.
"This is one of the most profound experiences I've ever had. What touched my heart the most, was the people in building and the trades who came forward. Everyone went so far beyond what was expected. You've put such love into this building," she said at the church blessing. "Thank you for all your untiring love. We now have a space for our children and grandchildren to grow closer to God."
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