Q: We are in the process of preparing the final Mass at a Catholic church that will be sold (and possibly torn down). We are aware that there is no formal ritual for the occasion. But during one of our planning meetings someone mentioned that the church was never “consecrated” only “dedicated”. An article in the archives states that the current church building was dedicated in 1957 by the then Archbishop. Can you clarify the terminology of dedication and consecration? Does it / should it make a difference to our planning of the closure?
A: Earlier, the ceremony was called “The Dedication or Consecration of a Church,” so the terms were interchangeable. After the council, there was some talk of calling the entire ceremony a dedication, with a consecration of the altar and walls. Now the ceremony is called a “Dedication”, with an “Anointing of the Altar and Walls.” A worship space of less importance receives a blessing, not a dedication. The word “consecration” is used for the eucharist and for chrism.
In your case, the appearance of the word “dedication” has no impact on the plans for closure. A church that was dedicated was thereby consecrated.