Sacred Heart marks last Mass before start of renovations
Category: Local News
ROCHESTER -- Sacred Heart Cathedral was nearly filled to capacity Sunday morning, June 29, as hundreds of people participated in the cathedral's last Mass before the start of renovation work.
The 10 a.m. liturgy featured the baptism of a baby and the renewal of wedding vows by a parish couple celebrating their 50th anniversary. During the service, Father John Mulligan, pastor, noted that the baptism of Julianna Jorja Morales called to mind the 13,960 other people baptized at Sacred Heart over the years, and that the renewal of Ed and Rosemary Hahn's marriage vows recalled the 5,229 weddings that had taken place there.
Prior to both ceremonies, Father Mulligan also noted that the baptism and the renewal of vows symbolized the journey all Christians make throughout their lives.
"Today marks another aspect of our journey of this Christian community as we take leave of this building in anticipation of returning to it prepared for what the future will bring," he said.
The Mass also featured a "leave-taking ritual" entailing the removal of such symbolic and sacramental objects as the Book of Gospels and the altar cloth. Father Mulligan said that during the renovation, the objects will be stored at Sacred Heart's rectory; neighboring Holy Rosary and Most Precious Blood parishes; and at the diocese's archives at the Pastoral Center in Gates. Parishioners will be attending Masses at both Holy Rosary and Most Precious Blood parishes during the renovation, he said, and the 5 p.m. Mass at Most Precious Blood that day was celebrated with the processional cross from Sacred Heart.
Masses at the cathedral are expected to resume in August of 2004, according to Father Mulligan, one of the Diocese of Rochester's two vicars general. During the renovation process, Sacred Heart's parish meetings and other business will continue to take place on the cathedral grounds, he said. Minor work, such as replacement of the church's roof, has already begun and will continue through the summer, he said, with major work slated to begin sometime in the fall.
The final Mass took place five days after the City of Rochester's Planning Commission voted June 24 for a second time to deny landmark status to the cathedral. Such status would have obligated the diocese to continuously seek approval for renovation changes from the city. Landmark status had been sought by renovation opponents. Between 10 to 15 of them held signs and protested outside the church throughout the final Mass, occasionally shouting comments at such church leaders as Father Mulligan after dismissal. One protester noted that renovation opponents would continue pursuing legal avenues to stop renovations.
Despite the presence of protesters, most people attending the final Mass seemed to be in lively spirits, including the Hahns, who said it was a coincidence that their renewal of vows -- planned a year ago -- took place on the day of the cathedral's leave-taking ceremony. Married June 6, 1953, at St. Michael's Church on Rochester's North Clinton Avenue, the couple has attended Sacred Heart for 47 years and raised three children in the parish, Rosemary Hahn said. She added that she had served on Sacred Heart's parish council and also as a lector and eucharistic minister. Her husband, Ed, said he had also served on the parish council as well as its finance and education boards, and as an usher.
The Hahns said they were grateful for having unexpectedly been part of a wider parish celebration that day, and added that they supported the planned cathedral renovations.
"I know there's a lot of work that needs to be done to fix it up," Ed said. "I can't identify with the anger some of the people have" about the planned renovations, Rosemary added. "I think (the protesters) are afraid of change, as we all are sometime."
Bishop Matthew H. Clark was unable to participate in the final Mass because he said he already had committed to celebrate the 160th anniversary Mass at Ss. Peter and Paul Church across town on West Main Street before the leave-taking ceremony was planned. However, the bishop did attend a reception in the cathedral parking lot following the Mass, and several people greeted him upon his arrival.
"I'm thrilled to be at least a last-minute part of it," Bishop Clark said of the celebration.
As the reception came to an end, two young adults, Chris Hryvniak and his friend Clare Ferris, said they welcomed the renovations -- with Hryvniak adding that the project will entail the tearing down of his childhood home two houses away from the rectory. The diocese has bought a number of area houses that will be demolished to make way for expanded parking.
"If the church wants to keep growing it has to make changes," Hryvniak said, adding that he believed the renovations seemed to be "well thought-out, well-planned."
Ferris offered similar sentiments.
"I think in renovating (the cathedral) it's going to make a more friendly and open place for people to celebrate," she said.