National Shrine Digest
At Mass over the weekend, Father Anthony Manuppella, pastor of St. Peter's in Merchantville, New Jersey (right across the river) told his parishioners that he had been offered the Vice-Rectorship of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington -- an offer he turned down. This isn't something a priest usually divulges publicly, but it's pure Manuppella.... When they learned that he was staying, the congregation whooped and cheered for an extended period. They've learned well his trademark line, "Look at all the beautiful things Father has brought to the Church."
Clad in cassock, sash and biretta even in the dead of August, Manuppella is one of the most charming and unique characters I've ever met in this business -- and after all this time, that's saying something. He has an almost unparalleled ability to draw people, emphasizing the best (and I mean best) traditions of art, architecture and devotions. The past couple years have brought very long Easter Vigils at St. Peter's as the pastor received RCIA classes of 25 or more.
And -- surprise, surprise -- I've never seen a more brilliant administrative wizard in my life. The man rains money like it's a monsoon, and he's got the KHS to prove it. In just five years, he's redone the parish buildings from top to bottom, including a Gothic brick-pointing of the church and importing a Neapolitan-trained frescoist to portray saints, coats of arms and other elements.... It's become known in some quarters as "The Antonine Chapel," an accolade he wears with pride.
Here's something I found on the parish website.... More Classic Manuppella, here speaking about redoing the Perpetual Adoration chapel:
Thanks to the donations of several parishioners, we have been able to re-plaster the Chapel, replace the Chapel roof and paint the interior of our King's Palace!
As you enter the chapel looking up to the ceiling, you immediately see the beautiful Gold Star of Bethlehem in the center - that star which guided the Wise Men to seek and to find Jesus. Like the Wise Men of old, we the wise people of today come to adore Our King. Venite adoremus - O Come let us adore!
We spend our hour of adoration and we are refreshed. We are emboldened. We are consoled by Our King. And then we go out like the 72 stars above us. Remember, Our Lord appointed a further 72 disciples to help the Apostles spread the Gospel. So, each star represents one of us going forth from the Chapel to go out and live the Gospel, spreading the good news of our faith, living out our faith, giving good example all because we have been with Our Eucharistic King - we had an audience with Our King!
Yep, Shrine's loss is St. Pete's gain.