There’s a mechanic across the street and a credit union next door. Down busy Washington Avenue in North Haven, Conn., are pizzerias, Chinese restaurants, supermarkets and auto dealerships.
And, in our non-descript two-story building is something few people around here would expect to find.
At least until just a couple of hours ago.
The National Catholic Register has been operating out of 432 Washington Ave. for the past 10 years. Soon after we moved in, former Archbishop of Hartford, Conn., Daniel Cronin blessed and dedicated a small chapel, and Christ in the Blessed Sacrament has been reserved in its simple tabernacle ever since. Register publisher Father Owen Kearns and other Legion of Christ priests have offered Mass there almost every working day here since.
About 20 employees, including those who work for the Register, Faith and Family magazine and the Legion’s fundraising office, left their desks this morning and walked past stacks of crates and disassembled computers to gather in our little chapel for one last Mass. We’re moving this weekend to new offices in Westchester County, New York. A few are retiring. Some will be telecommuting.
Father Owen, who has given some soul-stirring homilies here, spoke of the saint of the day, Pope Leo the Great, but then acknowledged that “this is the last Last Supper” here. The chapel, he said, has been a place of grace for so many of us and so many who have worked here in the past. And even at times when we are so consumed with our daily deadlines that we forget the presence of Christ in this building, we have benefited from that presence. All the work that we do we do for him, Father Owen said, “and Christ is not indifferent to that.”
There was no great ceremony to decommission the chapel, but it’s a safe bet that the small congregation was conscious of what was happening during Communion. Father Owen removed the large host that is always reserved for exposition and fractured it into the ciborium, along with newly-consecrated hosts and hosts saved from yesterday’s Mass. All were consumed, and afterwards, Father Owen purified all the sacred vessels for the last time, leaving nothing in the tabernacle and the tabernacle door open.
“Empty tomb” is what came to mind. And then, “Christ is no longer here… But we have received the body of Christ, and we must take Him out of this place wherever we go.”
Christ is no longer present in this non-descript building on Washington Avenue. It has returned to being simply a non-descript building. It’s a time of change for us, and change is not always easy. There’s a feeling that this tight-knit group will suffer somewhat.
But there’s also a feeling that that which has brought us together will always be there and somehow keep us together. Many of us will continue to attend Mass regularly, even daily, whether at our new office or in our local parishes. We know that whatever direction we take personally, Christ will always be there for us.