Arbutus church gets a new dome

May 05, 1994|By Frank P. L. Somerville | Frank P. L. Somerville,Sun Staff Writer

The mostly Slavic congregation of a little brick church in Arbutus has changed the skyline of the Baltimore County community overnight. Motorists turning south onto Linden Avenue from Westland Boulevard caught their first glimpse yesterday of a glistening gilded dome above the trees and cottage roofs. It was not there Tuesday morning.

The Rev. Conan Howard Timoney, pastor since 1983 of the Patronage of the Mother of God Ruthenian Catholic Church at Linden and Highview avenues, said neighbors and parishioners have been calling the rectory steadily, leaving variations of this message on his answering machine: "I can see it!"

The small dome with its white octagonal base replaces a conical, shingled steeple, erected by Lutherans, that was not architecturally appropriate for a Byzantine Rite church, he said. Everett Ruhland of Harbor View Contractors Inc. supervised construction of the dome and its installation Tuesday. The dome was lifted onto the church with a crane. It is part of a $170,000 renovation.

The modest brick church, where about 200 Catholics loyal to the pope worship according to liturgies and customs similar to those of the Eastern Orthodox, began life as Holy Nativity Lutheran Church. The Lutherans now worship in a larger building nearby.

Father Timoney, 55, said most of his parishioners have moved to the Baltimore area from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York, where Byzantine Rite Catholics of Slavic ancestry are more numerous.

The priest, who is attached to a sprawling diocese with headquarters in Passaic, N.J., also ministers to Ruthenian Catholic missions in Harford and Washington counties.

He is of Irish ancestry and was formerly a member of the Passionist order of Roman Catholic priests, directing retreats at Calvary Center in Shrewsbury, Mass., for 17 years. For five years he assisted at a Syrian Catholic church of the Melchite Rite in the Boston area, he said, and that led to his present assignment.

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