Renovation culminates in jubilant celebration of diocesan community
ROCHESTER — A few hours before worshipers were to gather in Sacred Heart Cathedral for its Jan. 21 dedication Mass, Bishop Matthew H. Clark noted he was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to celebrate his first Mass there since the doors were closed for renovation in June 2003.
Sitting in one of the upholstered chairs that replace the old pews, Bishop Clark said he had rehearsed celebrating Mass at the new altar, which is now located much closer to worshipers than was the previous altar.
“You do feel as though you’re profoundly connected to the assembly,” he said of celebrating at the new altar. “I have a sense of presiding over the community — and yet in the midst of them, walking with them.”
The bishop added that the new altar’s placement better highlights his role as bishop than did the old altar, which was more removed from the congregation.
“The bishop is called to leadership, not as someone over and above the community, but as one who stands in their midst,” he said.
In the gallery or balcony, Father Joseph W. Marcoux, Sacred Heart’s parochial vicar, had a gleam in his eye as he looked out over the renovated interior. For months, the priest had moved about the cathedral, wearing a hard hat as he bantered with the construction workers, watching them transform the mother church of the Diocese of Rochester into a new spiritual home.
“We’ve transformed the building, and now the real work has begun,” Father Marcoux said. “This campus is going to be a beacon in this community, a sign of life and warmth and welcoming.”
In just a few hours, the cathedral would welcome hundreds of worshipers eager to see and celebrate what years of planning, praying and labor had wrought.