Archbishop John G. Vlazny blesses new shrine at St. Helen Parish in Sweet Home. Father Fred Anthony looks on.
Archbishop John G. Vlazny blesses new shrine at St. Helen Parish in Sweet Home. Father Fred Anthony looks on.
Reprinted from the Albany Democrat-Herald

SWEET HOME — When Father Fred Anthony became pastor of St. Helen Parish here in 2009, he noticed something was missing in the parish of 195 families.

“I saw an empty porch on the east side of the church,” Father Anthony said. “The first thing that popped into my mind was that it would be a perfect place for a shrine to our patron saint.”

The former entryway had been closed about 20 years ago, after the parish at 600 Sixth Ave. remodeled the sanctuary and added a meeting hall and kitchen complex on the west wide of the building. The entry was moved to that side of the building as well.

Last month on St. Helen’s feast day, a 9-foot tall statue carved by artist J. Chester Armstrong of Sisters, was dedicated by Archbishop John G. Vlazny of Portland. The event was co-celebrated by Father Anthony and Deacon Robert Malone.

The archbishop said the statue is a symbol to help Christians seek God’s kingdom.
“We must always be mindful of our saints,” he said. “They are our brothers and sisters in faith. The saints loves us and intercede for us.”

St. Helen was the mother of Constantine and lived from about 246 BC to 330 AD. An empress.

“St. Helen traveled throughout the Roman Empire and used her wealth and power to help the poor,” Father Anthony said.

She is credited with manifesting miracles that led to the construction of the Church of the Burning Bush on Mt. Sinai; the basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth; the basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem; the basilica of the Holy Sepulcher and the Resurrection in Jerusalem; and the basilica of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

The sculpture rests in a heated enclosed area created by carpenter Tim Meyers of Sweet Home. It is surrounded by plexiglass panels and lighted at night.

Mass followed the dedication. A parish picnic was also held the afternoon of the event.
Masses are celebrated at St. Helen at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday through Friday; 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday.

St. Helen’s mission church is Holy Trinity in nearby Brownsville, 15 miles west of Sweet Home. Mass is celebrated at noon on Wednesday and at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.