Cathedral welcomes local pilgrims - Catholic Courier

Cathedral welcomes local pilgrims

ROCHESTER — Sunday-morning Masses at Sacred Heart Cathedral on May 22 had been over for several hours, but the cathedral was far from empty as people began streaming out of buses and cars and through its doors. Inside, groups of people were clustered in the narthex and around the altar and baptismal font.

More than 100 people, many of them from parishes in the Finger Lakes region, had traveled to the cathedral for the last “cathedral pilgrimage.” These pilgrimages, which took place on four Sunday afternoons during April and May, were intended to give people a chance to see the newly renovated cathedral, which is the mother church of the diocese.

Pilgrims were given the opportunity to look around the building on their own or take a tour led by a Sacred Heart parishioner. Several people climbed up the stairs to the balcony for a better view, and a handful of visitors posed for pictures in the bishop’s chair, or cathedra.

At 2:30 p.m., Bishop Matthew H. Clark stood by the baptismal font, where the afternoon’s prayer service was to begin. Several of the pilgrims had brought with them jars or bottles of water from home, and the bishop invited them to pour their water into the baptismal font and refill their containers from the font before leaving. During the remainder of the service, Bishop Clark and the pilgrims moved around the cathedral, praying at the ambry, altar and ambo before concluding the service at the eucharistic chapel.

The May 22 trip marked the first time many of the pilgrims — including Donna Swart — set foot inside the cathedral. Swart, who belongs to St. Michael’s Parish in Lyons, traveled to the cathedral on a bus with about 30 others, most of them fellow St. Michael’s parishioners. Swart said she made the pilgrimage because she wanted to see how the renovation turned out, and she was impressed by what she saw. She especially liked the new statue of St. John Fisher — the patron saint of the diocese — and the 166 angels adorning the ceiling arches.

The visit was not the first for Sister of St. Joseph Mary Kay Ryan, director of religious education at Good Shepherd Catholic Community in southern Cayuga County. Sister Ryan, who has been coming to the cathedral since she was a young girl, said she was impressed by the new, full-immersion baptismal font. The font also caught the attention of St. Michael’s parishioners John Murtari and his mother, Caterina. Caterina, who is from Italy, said the cathedral looked simple compared to the ones in her homeland, but both liked the baptismal font.

Scott Rutan, coordinator of adult and family faith formation at St. Patrick’s Parish in Victor, said he heard many people comment on the ambo’s new location. The oaken ambo, which was originally accessed by a set of stairs, is now set into the three small steps behind the altar, where it is more accessible. Rutan has also heard positive comments about the cathedral’s newfound brightness and warmth.

“This really makes the place so much more visually accessible,” Rutan said.

The cathedral does have a certain warmth, agreed Pauline Reeners, a member of St. Patrick’s Parish in Macedon. Reeners and her daughter, Jackie Krocke, rode to the cathedral on a bus packed with nearly 40 other Catholics eager to see the church’s interior. Krocke, who had never visited the cathedral before, said she was impressed by how tastefully the renovation work was done. She had been afraid it might look extravagant, but her fears were laid to rest when she walked inside.

“It’s beautiful,” Krocke said.

Fellow St. Patrick’s parishioners Esther and Paul Rogalski said they liked the way the renovation improved the cathedral’s look without drastically changing it.

“I like the way it was restored and not remodeled,” Paul Rogalski said.

St. Michael’s parishioners Jennie Guthrie and Kathy and Ed Mathews said they were struck by the new statue of Mary, which was carved by Matteo Moroder of Italy. Mary has a very youthful appearance, and Kathy Mathews said she couldn’t clear the image from her head. This version of Mary is different than the one he was raised with, her husband added.

Ronnie Fairclough of Holy Cross Parish in Ovid had never been to the cathedral before but said she loved everything from the intricate mosaics that made up the Stations of the Cross to the acoustics, which made her feel as if “you’ve died and gone to heaven.”

“I do like the fact that I don’t find it cold. It’s spacious and open but I feel a certain coziness,” Fairclough added.

Although she described the cathedral as beautiful, Fairclough said she probably couldn’t appreciate the improvements as much as some people could because she never saw it before the renovations. Glimpsing the cathedral firsthand did make her feel more connected to it, though.

“You do begin to feel a part of it because it is our diocesan church,” she said. “Being here now gives you a personal connection.”

Tags: Faith Formation, Monroe County East
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