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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Dedication of Prince of Peace Church at Mission Nombre de Dios

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/15/2024
Occurred: 9/8/1965
Posted: 10/16/2022
Page Views: 606
Topics: #Autobiography #MissionNombredeDios
Part of the St Augustine 400th Anniversary celebration.

As part of St Augustine's 400th Anniversary celebration, the Catholic Church (or our diocese, or somebody—no one discussed particulars with me) put up a new, modern church on the grounds where, in 1565, Don Pedro Menendez de Avilles first landed and the first Mass on the New World was said. This was to supplement the very old (and very small) chapel that was already there.

As Catholic school students, we of course were expected to participate in the celebration, which meant the choir. Above, sweet Sister Saint John, the first grade teacher that everyone loved, primarily because she was one of the few nuns who didn't look like she'd arrived with Menendez.

Sister Saint George was the high school choir teacher. (There had been another one, but she did the unthinkable—she left the convent!—and suddenly became She Who Must Not Be Named. The yearbook nun even made me remove her image from a photo—something that's a lot easier to do now than then)!

The Mission grounds are spacious, with paved walkways and a few well-trod trails. Being on the shore of Matanzas River, yet littered with trees, it provides a beautiful meditative space for anyone wishing to make use of it.

My mom and Gramma often came here just to stroll, though that was always prelude to dropping by the chapel to say a Rosary. Here they are with my sister, Mary Joan.

The architecture of the new church is very nice, managing to look at once traditional, Spanish, and modern.

As a full-fledged church, there will be regular Sunday Mass, needed to ease the crowds at the Cathedral (now called the Basilica). There's even a chapel of its own.

But the showpiece is the Great Cross. Also built for the celebration, it's made of stainless steel and rises 208 feet from the marsh.

It makes such a natural landmark that many thousands of photos have been taken featuring it and a loved one. Here, for example, is the Great Cross with my Mary Joan.

Of course, at night with all those lights on it, the Cross projects giant shadows of itself against clouds or haze that might line the sky.

At the time, I felt so pleased at this communal sign of our respect for God. Now, of course, I recognize it as advertising for one of the religions of Men, and a slap in the face to every non-Christian person within a 10-square-mile radius.