More in this section MAIN MENU

An altar made of stone

After 30 years, St. Dominic replaces wooden altar, adds matching ambo, baptismal font

Archbishop Thomas Wenski anoints the new altar with the oil of chrism.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Archbishop Thomas Wenski anoints the new altar with the oil of chrism.

MIAMI — When St. Dominic’s permanent church was built in 1981, the pastor ordered a wooden altar from a catalogue, hoping that one day it would be replaced with a finer altar.

“Thirty years later the wooden altar was replaced with a stone altar,” said Dominican Father Alberto Rodriguez, St. Dominic’s pastor. “The altar was showing signs of age. It was time to make a change so we started collecting money which parishioners would put in a large water bottle. We renovated the sanctuary, which included the ambo and baptismal font, which had been a large plant pot.”

Deacon Edgardo Farias proclaims the Gospel as Father Jorge Presmanes, Father Marcelo Solarzano, Father Resituto Perez, Father Alberto Rodriguez, St. Dominic's pastor, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski listen. The new altar, podium and baptismal font are visible in this photo.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

Deacon Edgardo Farias proclaims the Gospel as Father Jorge Presmanes, Father Marcelo Solarzano, Father Resituto Perez, Father Alberto Rodriguez, St. Dominic's pastor, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski listen. The new altar, podium and baptismal font are visible in this photo.

The three new pieces are made from Carrara marble which sculptor Roberto Perez, 42, a Cuban refugee who migrated to the United States in 2003, created. He studied stone carving in Portugal under the supervision of renowned sculptor Jorgen Haugen Sorenson, who said, “Good stone carvers are a rare and special species and Roberto is one of them.”

Perez’s work at St. Dominic is among several other religious works of art that he has sculpted in the Archdiocese of Miami, among them the statue of Christ outside St. Martha Church in Miami Shores, a stone carving of the 10 Commandments outside St. Coleman School in Pompano Beach, and the ambo and altar at the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami.

The new sanctuary at St. Dominic was completed about a year ago. On Aug. 5, Archbishop Thomas Wenski sanctified the altar, ambo and baptismal font, which he called “magnificent.”

The wood of the old altar has been recycled into a new cabinet for the sacristy. The baptismal font was designed to resemble the font depicted on one of the church’s stained glass windows.

Father Rodriguez said there is no comparison with the reality of a stone altar.

“It’s a great gift for the church community to have this newly-sanctified altar,” he said, “especially since we will be celebrating the feast day of St. Dominic August 8.”
From left: Father Jorge Presmanes, Father Marcelo Solorzano, Deacon Alex Lam, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Father Richard Vigoa, Father Restituto Perez and Father Alberto Rodriguez, pastor, take part in the Mass celebrated on St. Dominic's newly-consecrated altar.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

From left: Father Jorge Presmanes, Father Marcelo Solorzano, Deacon Alex Lam, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Father Richard Vigoa, Father Restituto Perez and Father Alberto Rodriguez, pastor, take part in the Mass celebrated on St. Dominic's newly-consecrated altar.