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Congregants fill new sanctuary

Posted: September 4, 2009 10:04 p.m.
Updated: September 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Cardinal Roger Mahony celebrates the dedication ceremony at the new parish Friday.

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Before a crowd of hundreds of singing congregants, Cardinal Roger Mahony led a procession of priests to dedicate a brand-new church in Santa Clarita, now the second-largest house of worship in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

"It kind of feels like we're moving into a new mansion in heaven," said longtime church member Mary Hall, of Valencia, as she walked through the front doors of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish.

"We've been waiting for this a long time," said congregant Gwen Overstreet of Saugus.

The sanctuary can host up to 1,420 worshippers and is located on Copper Hill Drive near Seco Canyon Road. The only larger Catholic church in the Archdiocese, which covers Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.

As the doors opened at Blessed Kateri, church members filled the fresh, upholstered pews of the sanctuary.

After the choir led the congregation through several songs Mahony addressed the crowd about their new church, asking, "So after all these years, how does it feel to be in a real church?"

Applause and cheers followed, to which Mahony responded, "Amen, amen."

"(This) has been your dream and you have worked very hard at it. I congratulate you," he said.

As Mahony addressed the congregation with a homily, he reminded the congregants that they are the church.

"We make up the church, the building doesn't define us," he said, "but rather, we define the building."

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