St. Peter Catholic Church in Pine Bluff was privileged to witness “something seldom seen by Catholics,” according to Bishop Anthony B. Taylor: the consecration of an altar.
Saturday, March 24, 2012, the church was full of members and visitors from area Catholic and surrounding churches.
The service began with the bishop explaining the process of consecrating the altar. The process included: blessing of holy water and renewal of baptismal vows; installing a relic into the altar (the relic of St. Martin dePorres); and covering the altar in holy oils. Several members of the church participated in the service by wiping the oil from the altar; placing of the altar cloth; and placing candles on altar. The mass continued with appropriate musical selections by the choir and a song by the children’s choir. Liturgical dancers provided a moving tribute through dance.
The beautiful lighted altar was built for St. Peter by a family from Texas who were members of Father Anil Thomas’ previous church assignment. Along with the altar, the donors have also provided St. Peter with a new matching Tabernacle, Lectern and Baptismal Font, which Bishop Taylor blessed throughout the service.
Since Father Thomas’ arrival at St. Peter, the church has had a facelift-inside and out. Altar flooring and carpet has been replaced, the church has been painted, the basement cleaned and the exterior has been power washed. The church has also been blessed by the donation a new exterior church sign. Lighting for the sign and flowers surrounding the sign was provided by a church family. This sign also was blessed by Bishop Taylor immediately following the church service. Bishop Taylor used this opportunity to bless the food that was prepared for a reception that followed in the cafeteria.
The historically African-American Catholic Church now boasts of a culturally diverse membership representing several ethnicities.