Sacred Heart serves as model
From the bishop’s liturgical role to pastoral-planning initiatives, Sacred Heart Cathedral and its parish community offer models for other diocesan parishes to follow.
Bishop Matthew H. Clark, “by example, has the function of being the chief liturgist of the diocese. He is the pastor,” noted Basilian Father Norman Tanck, chair of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission and pastor at Irondequoit’s Christ the King Parish.
“The bishop must be the mentor of the liturgical formation of the clergy in his diocese,” Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pa., noted during an October speech to the national Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. “(B)ishops in their liturgical/sacramental role are pillars of the church,” continued Bishop Trautman, who chaired the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Liturgy from 1993 to 1996, and was reelected to that position in November 2004.
Father Tanck said the bishop can set the diocesan tone through the music, symbols, prayers and gestures used during Masses at the cathedral. Father John Mulligan, Sacred Heart’s pastor, noted that parishes also can adopt the bishop’s choice of vessels and vestments.
Sacred Heart Cathedral’s physical features, such as the centered placement of the new altar, offer another model. “When the church gathers with the bishop around the altar, this is one of the most visible expressions of the body of Christ,” Father Tanck remarked. “If all things were perfect,” he observed, more churches would adopt the cathedral’s creation of a narthex and its prominently displayed baptismal font.
As for the outside, Father Mulligan added that the renovated Sacred Heart Cathedral’s finely landscaped grounds might inspire other parishes “to create a beautiful space in their neighborhood.”
Father Mulligan suggested that any parish planning a renovation consider hiring a liturgical consultant who can provide the “sense of attention to detail” Father Richard Vosko offered the cathedral.
Whereas some parishes lack the space or financial means to sail into renovations, pastoral planning is an ongoing process for all diocesan parishes — and Sacred Heart Parish can be a model in this area as well. Sacred Heart’s planning group, Flower City-Lexington Parishes, known as FLEX, also comprises Holy Rosary and Most Precious Blood in Rochester. FLEX’s collaborative efforts drew praise from Karen Rinefierd, diocesan pastoral-planning liaison. She noted that since FLEX was formed in 1997, the parishes have scrutinized such factors as number of sacraments celebrated, neighborhood demographics and Mass attendance.
“They’ve pro-actively and realistically looked at the situation before they were required to. That’s a good model for anyone, to know where you are and what’s changing,” Rinefierd said, adding that all three parishes participated actively in the planning process. “It was not just one tiny group of people paying attention to the reality. Very few other planning groups are as pro-active,” she said.
The process has seen the consolidation of many ministries and staff positions, as well as weekday and weekend Mass schedules. FLEX parishes have also combined their office space into a brand-new wing at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Rinefierd and Father Mulligan noted that the FLEX parishes emphasize hospitality, as evidenced by the many public events scheduled to take place at Sacred Heart Cathedral over the next several months. Holy Rosary and Most Precious Blood likewise displayed their hospitality toward Sacred Heart parishioners during the renovation, inviting Sacred Heart parishioners to worship with them during that period.