Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Look Inside the New St. Cecilia Catholic Church, Wisconsin Dells

"The present glory of this house shall be greater than the former."
- Haggai 2:9
(Referenced in Father Eric Sternberg's Letter within the Solemn Mass of Dedication Program, August 28, 2016)

Sunday, August 28th marked a landmark moment for the Wisconsin Dells Catholic community. After fifteen months without a proper church building, St. Cecilia Parish opened its wonderful new church to the public. To mark the occasion, the Parish held a Solemn Mass of Dedication, followed by a festival and tours of the church.

To stem the inevitable rush of Mass-goers to claim seats in the building, the doors were kept shut until an hour before Mass. Thanks to the willingness of Father Sternberg and the Parish Development Committee, I was able to take a self-guided tour just before the doors were unlocked. The photos in this post come from that visit.

The new St. Cecilia's church building replaces a smaller century-old building that stood on the same site. In a slight nod toward post-Modernism, and a greater nod towards Parish history, a number of elements from the previous building are visible with the new church. Last year, I published a series of posts detailing the old St. Cecilia Catholic Church, which can be visited for comparison:

Post 1 (Interior photos)
Post 2 (Exterior and Parish grounds)
Post 3 (Windows)

“Novam ecclesiam Sancta Caecilia, XVIII Aug MMXVI
Lux luceat in tenebris”

“New church of Saint Cecilia, 18 August, 2016
The light shines in the darkness”

This was my first look inside the nave. First off, the spaciousness comes to the forefront. For years, St. Cecilia's has held weekend Mass in its old school gymnasium during the summer months to fit the vacationing crowds. The expanded seating in the nave and transepts should keep seating more manageable, with room for over 1,000 souls[1].

To my eyes, the restoration and adaptation of the statuary, altar works, and windows from the old church building are an instant treasure. Practically every statue and stained glass window from the former building has made its way inside the new church. The high altar represents a creative and tasteful update from the previous high altar. 

The St. Cecilia and Sacred Heart of Jesus statues were each given their own side altar space and are positioned under the large windows on opposite transepts near the front of the church.

Detail: St. Cecilia side altar

Detail: Stained glass window depicting the angel approaching the shepherds the night of Jesus' Nativity

Stations of the Cross

Detail: Sacred Heart of Jesus side altar

This Parish, whose patron saint doubles as a patron saint of sacred music, has a well-supplied music section in the south transept. Their performance at the Dedication Mass was magnificent.


Recognizing the importance of culture in the local faith, pictures of Our Lady of Częstochowa and Our Lady of Guadalupe hang in the transepts. Wisconsin Dells is a small, but historic outpost for Polish Catholics, and a Polish language Mass is held in town on a monthly basis. Weekly Spanish Mass is also a fixture at this Parish.

Windows from the old church line the nave.

St. Cecilia Catholic Church

Weekend Mass Times
Saturdays: 5 p.m.
Sundays: 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 5 p.m.
Spanish Sunday Mass: 6:30 p.m.
Polish Sunday Mass: 3 p.m., first Sunday of the month

Additional Sources

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