You will receive this edition of the Catholic Courier on the weekend of celebrations marking the dedication of our renewed and restored Sacred Heart Cathedral. At this writing, some 10 days in advance of the event, the great majority of the work has been completed. But, as you would guess, there are still some elements yet to be put in place.
For example, work on our beautifully restored ambo is still in progress. I am especially eager to see it, not only for its own beauty, but because it will be the last element in a deeply significant grouping. When a person enters Sacred Heart from Flower City Park she or he will see in an impressive south-to-north axis the baptismal font, the altar of sacrifice and the font.
Even without the ambo, the relationship between the font and the altar is most impressive. The positioning of the font reminds us that this is where our life in Christ begins and that baptism opens us to the Eucharist and the other sacraments of the church. But it is more than the positioning of font and altar that is impressive. It is the also the substance and design of both that will symbolize the unshakable presence and power of God’s love for us in Christ.
Another element of major significance is yet to arrive at Sacred Heart. That is the cathedra or bishop’s chair. In our tradition the cathedra is the place from which the bishop presides in charity over the life of the whole diocese entrusted to his care. In that sense the cathedral is the bishop’s church, and the mother church of the whole diocese. By extension, the cathedra is a symbol of the unity in faith and charity to which our diocesan community is called.
You may recall that some weeks ago I mentioned visiting the studio of John Dodd, who designed and fashioned our cathedra. At the time I was deeply impressed by what I saw. I feel that John’s work is simple and strong, and that it captures and expresses very well what the symbol of the cathedra is meant to communicate.
It also gives me deep pleasure to know that this impressive addition to our cathedral is given to Sacred Heart by the priests of our diocese in honor of my 25th anniversary as their bishop. I cannot think of a more beautiful gift from those who are my brothers and closest collaborators in ministry.
All of the equipment for our new audio system is in place. Today, technicians are involved in the intricate work of adjusting the equipment so that the sound it transmits will be as clear and effective in all parts of the building as human hands can make it.
We’re almost there! God willing, when the time comes to celebrate the dedication all will be in place. Surely, there will be adjustments to be made and bugs to be worked out. But isn’t that true of any new home, whether newly built or renovated? Such ongoing challenges may well be God’s kind way of reminding us we are not yet complete either. Graced as we are through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are still pilgrims always in need of conversion.
Among my fond hopes for our new cathedral is that its beauty and grace will turn our minds toward God, remind us of what’s best in us, and inspire us to live in the spirit of Christ. Please come to visit Sacred Heart and pray that we will all be enriched by our experience of our renewed cathedral.
Peace to all.