One Spirit, One Church - Catholic Courier

One Spirit, One Church

ROCHESTER — Bishop Matthew H. Clark looked out over the congregation of more than 700 people gathered Jan. 21 for the dedication of Sacred Heart Cathedral and pronounced the words so many had longed to hear for months:

“We’ve done it.”

Applause greeted the bishop’s words, which highlighted completion of the cathedral’s $11 million renovation, a process that began in late 2000 when the Diocese of Rochester announced plans to revamp the structure and moved into high gear when the church was closed for renovation in June, 2003.

The cathedral’s 4 p.m. reopening was attended by a festive liturgy featuring choral and instrumental music from several cultures; liturgical dancing; and elegant rituals involving the lighting of candles and the sprinkling of holy water. Deacons, women religious and lay people all played key roles in the service. Scores of diocesan and religious priests concelebrated with Bishop Clark, as did Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York, and seven bishops from the dioceses of Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse and Ogdensburg.

“It’s so good to be back” in the cathedral, Bishop Clark said during his homily. “It’s so good to gather with this community, to see on the faces here the face of Christ represented on the altar.”

The new altar, placed closer to the congregation, was among the many new elements designed for the cathedral. Among others were a full-immersion baptismal font; a eucharistic chapel; niches for statues; a life-sized statue of Mary and the infant Jesus; an exterior ramp to provide access for people with disabilities; a narthex for liturgical gathering and events; parks and additional parking; and new lighting, roofing and restrooms. Many historic elements from Sacred Heart and Rochester’s former St. Patrick’s cathedral also were restored and reinstalled in the cathedral.

One particularly noteworthy improvement was the cathedral’s new sound system. Bishop Clark asked those sitting in the balcony if they could hear him, and got a resounding “yes” in response. “Thanks be to God!” he said.

At the conclusion of the dedication Mass, people milled about, examining the renovated structure. The renovation work apparently pleased many, including Father Peter Enyan-Boadu, pastor of Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Brockport. The priest, who hails from the African nation of Ghana, danced a little to the recessional hymn, a traditional Swaziland piece called “Sizohamba” or “We Will Walk With God,” and said he enjoyed the renovated cathedral and the dedication liturgy.

“To see the participation of the laity and the clergy and the religious and all of us was awesome,” Father Enyan-Boadu said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The February edition of Catholic Courier monthly, arriving in mailboxes Feb. 2, will include extensive coverage of the cathedral dedication as well as a 32-page commemorative supplement.

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