Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki (center) presents the keys to the new church to St. Charles Pastor Fr. Ken Omernick, who then opened the doors for the first time during a Dedication Mass Saturday, April 6, at the Hartland parish. See more photos of the Mass and newly renovated church online at (Photo by Andrew Gilicinski)

The bells at St. Charles Church in Hartland rang Saturday, April 6, announcing the opening of the newest church building in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

“Here at this moment, the past, the present and the future meet,” Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki said during the Dedication Mass held at the church.

Hundreds of people gathered for the new church dedication. There were bishops, as well as dozens of priests, deacons, seminarians and servers who joined the faithful members of St. Charles Parish to dedicate the new church building.

The service began with an opening prayer in the old church. Then, the archbishop led a procession, which included clergy and members of the parish community, from the old church, through the corridor, to the doors of the new church.

There, the archbishop received the plans of the building and the key to the church from representatives who had been involved with building the new church — the architects, faithful donors and workers. After a brief statement by a representative of this group, Archbishop Listecki handed the key to the church pastor, Fr. Ken Omernick, who unlocked the doors. The procession then entered the new 33,000-square-foot church.

The magnificent building features a 65-foot-tall dome with a center cupola that extends upward another 100 feet, adorned with gilded stars. The church interior is painted gold and two hues of blue, with medallions of the four evangelists painted on the ceiling. Stained-glass windows depict different saints, including the church’s patron, St. Charles Borromeo.

“In this church, there is a symbol of the love of Jesus Christ. And that is what we take with us … and we share that love with others,” Archbishop Listecki said during the Dedication Mass.

A mural in the sanctuary depicts two deer drinking from a waterfall coming down from heaven.

The deer are symbolic of Psalm 42: “As the deer longs for running waters, so my soul longs for you, my God.”

In Middle English, the word “hart” is another term for “deer,” symbolic also because the church is located in the village of Hartland.

Stencils painted on the interior walls around the perimeter of the church feature the Borromeo rings from the family crest and the Latin word Humilitas, which means “humility before God,” the motto of St. Charles.

“This is one of the most beautiful churches in our archdiocese. But if it was just a humble shack, the person of Christ would still be seen. This one helps us to talk about the magnificence of our Lord and how much we are blessed and called to share,” Archbishop Listecki said.

During the dedication rite, the altar and walls of the church were blessed with holy water, anointed with chrism and incensed. Following the anointing, three women wiped the chrism from the altar.

“It was a privilege to be part of it; we were very honored,” said Rose Thomas, who worked at the altar with Sue Williams and Carol Betzhold. “It was so humbling and so beautiful.”

Construction on the new church began nearly three years ago.

“I remember going 25 feet below grade when we poured the first footings to 108 feet up on top of the scaffolding putting that cross up there. I started down low, but then I reached for the heavens, and I made it,” said Mike Cattani, Facilities Manager for the parish.

The biggest challenge was overcoming labor shortages, according to Cattani. However, the entire congregation stayed focused on completing the project.

“It is a joyful sigh of relief that it is finally done. Everybody can finally come to worship and praise the Lord,” Cattani said. “Thanks go to the architects, and thanks go to all the general contractors and subcontractors. Without them, we couldn’t have gotten it done. And thanks also for the support and the prayers from everybody. It is just beyond overwhelming. Lots of hearts, lots of tears went into this, and it’s all worth it in the end.”

“It is a dream come true,” Fr. Omernick added.

The growing parish was inspired to build a new church because it had outgrown its existing worship space, which seated 750 people.

“During Masses, we were putting another 150 to 200 people throughout the building, in the cafeteria and the multipurpose room,” Cattani said.

“It is a sign of hope. You look at the world — everyone is in despair and losing hope. This comes to say: No, we are here. We are not going anywhere,” said Fr. Ariel Orozco, associate pastor.