The Feast of Dedication is an opportunity to celebrate the dedication or consecration of a church building, and to give thanks for the physical assets which support the life and ministry of a parish. It is also an occasion to remember the ministry that has gone on in this place before us, and to recommit ourselves to the ministries that have been entrusted to us in our own day.
The Feast of Dedication differs from the Patronal Feast, which is an occasion to remember with gratitude our “heavenly cheerleader”—the saint to whom the parish is dedicated, and whose prayers sustain our ministry. The Patronal Feast reminds us of the spiritual support we receive from heaven; the Feast of Dedication reminds us of the temporal support we have received from those who have gone before us in faith. Together, the Feast of Dedication and the Patronal Feast help us balance the spiritual and temporal aspects of our life and ministry, and remind us that the church is called to be a sign of heaven on earth.
When the date of the dedication or consecration of a church or chapel is known, the Feast of Dedication may be celebrated on that day or the Sunday closest to it. When its date is not known, or (as is the case for us at St Thomas’) when its anniversary falls on Sundays in Advent, Lent, Easter, or Feasts of Our Lord and other Feasts taking precedence of Sundays, the Feast of Dedication may be celebrated on October 25 or the Sunday before All Saints’ Day.