Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When is the Cathedral's Anniversary?

The history – especially in the last few decades – of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral of the Diocese of Baker is a story of confusion.

Nowhere is this confusion more evident than in the celebration of the dedication of that Cathedral.  

If you’d looked in the Paulist Press ordo up till a few years ago, you’d have seen the dedication of St. Francis Cathedral listed on April 28.  However, this is not the date of the original dedication of the church.

The project of building St. Francis de Sales Cathedral was initiated by Bishop Charles J. O’Reilly, who had arrived in Baker City in 1903.  At that time, the “cathedral” was a little mission church which was certainly not able to accommodate the kind of liturgies that should be held in a Cathedral. So, on March 20th, 1905, the old church was removed; on March 24, ground was broken for the new building.

The architect for the new cathedral was M. P. White of Baker City, and the builder was Thomas E. Grant. Stone was brought in from Pleasant Valley, with is southeast of Baker City. The building was actually completed in 1908 and opened on St. Patrick’s Day that year, but it was not put into use until after its dedication on April 9th.

There’s the original date of dedication of the Cathedral of the Diocese of Baker: April 9.

There have been a number of renovations of St. Francis Cathedral…as well as the typical wreck-ovation after Vatican II. And after that major wreck-ovation – which took a cathedral that once looked like this (ahhhh!):

and made it look like this (sigh):

there was a re-dedication on April 28, 1981. That date was probably given to the Paulist Press people by Bishop Connolly, who had initiated the wreckovation and who led the dedication ceremony. According to the printed pamphlet commemorating that event, the ceremony was attended by the bishops of five neighboring diocese - including Bishop William S. Skylstad of Yakima, the current Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Baker - as well as the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Portland. 

So, up until just a few years ago, one would always find April 28 listed as the date of the dedication of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral in the Diocese of Baker. Last year’s ordo, I believe, listed it as April 9th.

Why the change? Because, apparently, the rector of the Cathedral took it upon himself to notify the Paulist Press people of the original date of the dedication, without consulting the bishop or anyone else.

This year’s ordo lists the anniversary of the dedication of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral as April 16! Why? Because April 9 falls in the Octave of Easter; the Octave days take precedence, so a celebration of the dedication of any cathedral would not be permitted.

In 2010, an acquaintance of mine brought the matter to the attention of Bishop Robert F. Vasa, then the bishop of the Diocese of Baker. Bishop Vasa noted that April 9 almost always falls during Lent or in the Octave of Easter; therefore, the date for the celebration of the dedication would be different each year. On the other hand, the April 28 date submitted by Bishop Connolly would almost always be after Easter and the Octave (the latest possible date for Easter is April 25); therefore, keeping that date for the celebration of the dedication would lend it much more stability.  April 28th is in fact related to a significant historical event for the Cathedral – a re-dedication – and so is an appropriate date that is at least in the same month as the original date, and which would be much more predictable than the April 9th date. Bishop Vasa had intended to mention something about this in the Diocesan newsletter the following year, but since he was transferred to the Diocese of Santa Rosa, the clarification fell by the wayside.

At any rate, as I think I've noted elsewhere, in at least the last 10 years, the bishop of the Diocese of Baker has not been at the Cathedral for the celebration of the anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral on either April 9 or April 28. Even in 2008, for the centennial anniversary of the Cathedral, there was no bishop present: just the rector and two former pastors.

Prior to that, in October of 2007, Bishop-emeritus Thomas Connolly celebrated the 60th anniversary of his priesthood; at that time, in the presence of a couple of archbishops, several bishops, and numerous priests, the newly renovated Cathedral sanctuary was "blessed and re -dedicated" (see the Cathedral parish website). Still...the bishop of the Diocese of Baker was not in attendance! 

The anniversary of a cathedral's dedication is to be celebrated as a solemnity in the cathedral parish; it is celebrated as a feast elsewhere in the diocese. The cathedral is the "mother church" of the diocese and should be a liturgical example of excellence to the rest of the parishes, according to the Ceremonial of Bishops.

It could be so in the Diocese of Baker, but it is not so at present. 

Perhaps our new bishop will make the necessary adjustment by next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be courteous and concise.