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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

“Bringing us closer to God”: Glenwood parish introduces Mass “Ad Orientem”

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By Cathy Murphy

Inspired by Bishop Wall’s article in the printed Voice of the Southwest; “Turning Toward God”, Father Anthony Dike and the parishioners at Santo Niño de Praga Mission began planning to rearrange our church. Our deadline was the first day of Advent, the first day of the church’s new year.

This little church had an interesting beginning. There was an active Catholic presence in Glenwood since the 1950’s when Priests came and celebrated Mass in the homes of the faithful. During the 1960’s the Little Sisters of the Poor held Catechism classes in the Glenwood Community Center. In the 1970’s the Parish was established with help from the Catholic Extension Society. A bunk house from the Dos Burros Ranch was purchased and moved to the current location on Catwalk road. Glenwood remained in the Tucson diocese under the care of the Pastor of Saint Helena’s in Alpine. Eventually, both Saint Helena’s and Santo Niño were transferred to the Diocese of Gallup where they remain today.

The church of Santo Niño in Glenwood, NM. Photo credit: Cathy Murphy.

Discovering that the altar was too heavy for us to move, we asked for the help of young, strong men, only to find out when they arrived that the altar was really on hidden wheels and was pretty easy to move to the wall. Deacon Ed Schaub, who is a brilliant iron artist, was enlisted to make a stand for the tabernacle and to make a lectern. Both items were constructed to perfection in short order.

The altar before the re-arrangement. Photo credit: Cathy Murphy.

Father Anthony spent one entire morning, moving, planning, thinking about where everything should be placed. The results were perfect.

To get a feel of how participants felt in the celebration of Mass “Ad Orientem”, we asked for comments. Everyone had highest praise for the new arrangement. Some of the comments were:

“I really enjoyed it and am appreciative of all the new ways that Father brings to us to appreciate the Mass more fully. I did miss being able to see exactly what he is doing during the consecration but it caused me to focus more on what he is saying and concentrate on that. I have grown so much in my faith the last year.”

The altar in the new “Ad Orientem” position. The altar before the re-arrangement. Photo credit: Cathy Murphy.

“I am good with it and it makes sense. I think it will take a little time to adjust to, just as it did when they changed the ritual so the priest was facing the congregation and standing behind the altar.”

“I continue to be amazed about how the little church looks and feels now, as compared to what it was when I first started attending mass there. Every decade and generation has added significant improvements to the church. I think Father is moving us forward in faith but helping us to return to tradition.”

“I feel like I’m home with my mass. I never was part of the original way but have seen masses on television which celebrated this way most recently was a bishop out of Detroit. To me it’s much more reverent and allows me to share more deeply with my Lord. I feel it’s like Father is bringing me closer to God, interceding for us. Thank God Father isn’t afraid to introduce our old ways. Ways the younger generation may not know.”

Cathy Murphy is the parish secretary for Santo Niño in Glenwood, NM.


  1. And where is God? Don’t you know you are temples of the Holy Spirit? And where is the Holy Spirit? Somewhere East?? In the people!!


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