When Tony Bannon returned from a trip to Ireland in 2012 and attended Mass in Sycamore, he noticed something was wrong.
The Church of St. Mary’s in Sycamore held an outdoor Mass on Memorial Day at Mount Carmel Cemetery. Bannon said he noticed the wind was blowing everything around and church officials were using a small card table as an alter for the Eucharist.
Not only that, the Mass was being held at a site where the statue of the cross was covered in a thick green bush. It was unlike a similar Mass at a cemetery he attended in Ireland.
“Since I had come back from Ireland and seen how we had Mass at the graveyard in Ireland, it came to my head that we should do something at Mount Carmel Cemetery,” he said.
After talking it over with Father Frank Timar, who was celebrating the Mass at the time, Bannon decided to refurbish the space that would soon become an altar for future services.
With the help of parishioners, community members and Sycamore-based Weaver Construction Inc., the site where the Memorial Day Mass was held in 2012 was renovated and ready for the Labor Day Mass this year. The site now has a marble altar, concrete pathways and is adorned with flowers.
Close to 100 people came to the newly renovated site at the cemetery for Labor Day Mass, Bannon said. Father Paul Lipinski blessed the altar, as did other parishioners when they came.
The renovation came at the cost of $2,000 and Bannon said he was delighted with the finished product. He put his “heart and soul” into the project and it could not have happened without the help he received to complete it, he said.
One helping hand came from Jordan Peterson, a Boy Scout and Sycamore High School student, who wanted to improve the site for an Eagle Scout project. Peterson gathered more than 25 people to help him and received resources for the project from local businesses.
Bannon said Peterson helped renovate the back of the site, while he and others renovated the front part. The altar was made from marble rails found in the Church of St. Mary’s, Bannon said. His wife Brenda said she thought the use of the marble meant a lot to the church.
“It’s part of the church and that is a further connection,” she said.
The site is not only an altar, but also a grave for a previous pastor, Father Peter S. Masterson, who served the church between 1927 and 1945.
Bannon, who has been a parishioner of the church along with his wife for more than 20 years, said he felt like the site is now more comforting for people who visit the cemetery.
“When people come out to the graveyard, the altar will welcome the people,” he said.