Parishioners, media get look
at renovation efforts thus far
ROCHESTER — When it reopens in January or February, Sacred Heart Cathedral will be far brighter and more welcoming than in the past, and will boast many historically and religiously significant items, according to Father John M. Mulligan, pastor.
According to the diocese, the $8 million renovation project will achieve several objectives, including updating the cathedral in line with church liturgical norms; improving its sound and lighting; expanding parking; and increasing its accessibility for people with disabilities.
Parishioners toured the building during their annual picnic the afternoon of Sept. 19. That morning, Father Mulligan guided media representatives through the cathedral, which is “65 percent finished,” he said.
He highlighted several interior features — including the locations of future shrines to Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John Fisher — patron saint of the Rochester Diocese — and pointed out that the new altar contains relics donated by many diocesan parishes.
The tabernacle to be installed in the cathedral’s new eucharistic chapel is among the many significant elements of the renovated cathedral, he said. It is the tabernacle that was rescued from Rochester’s St. Philip Neri Church in 1967 during a fire that claimed the lives of Father George J. Weinmann, who went into the building to save the reserved Eucharist, and School Sister of Notre Dame Lilian Marie McLaughlin, who attempted to save Father Weinmann.
Father Mulligan added that the eucharistic chapel’s ceiling has been painted to depict the night sky on March 3, 1868, when the Vatican declared the establishment of the Diocese of Rochester.
A handful of protesters stood outside the cathedral during the media tour, but parishioner Michele Reichlmayr, co-chairwoman of the Cathedral Renovation Committee, noted that parishioners have fully supported the renovation. To illustrate her point, she said that parishioners exceeded their goal for Partners In Faith, the diocesan-wide capital campaign that funded the renovation and several other initiatives.
Father Mulligan said innovation and tradition are combined in the renovated cathedral.
“We haven’t stripped this of religious significance at all,” he said. “If anything, we’ve enhanced the religious significance.”