Year of events to mark centennial at Cathedral
By LISA SCHULTE
The Catholic Voice
CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION ACTIVITIES
GOT A STORY?
Do you have any stories or photographs that highlight St. Cecilia Cathedral throughout the past 100 years? If so, share them with Father Michael Gutgsell by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parishioners of St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha will begin celebrating the 100th anniversary of their church during CathedralFest 2006 "“ Sept. 23 through Oct. 1.
The yearlong celebration will mark the centennial of the laying of the church's cornerstone, which took place Oct. 6, 1907. It is also St. Cecilia School's 100th year.
Several activities are scheduled to take place throughout the year, including a Spanish concert by the group SAVAE, a city-wide fiesta, an Opera Omaha performance, and the Cathedral Flower Festival.
In conjunction with the centennial celebration, a special marker will be blessed at St. Cecilia Cathedral in honor of the 150th anniversary of St. Mary Church, the first church in the archdiocese. The church was located on 8th Street between Harney and Howard streets in downtown Omaha, which is now part of the ConAgra property. The marker will be placed in the pavement near the site of the former St. Mary Church.
The celebration activities will culminate during CathedralFest 2007 "“ Sept. 29 through Oct. 7, 2007. A parade is scheduled to take place Oct. 6, 2007.
St. Cecilia School will host a number of celebration activities as well, including a Comedy and Cuisine fund raiser in March.
CathedralFest 2006 co-chairs, Joe and Denise Saniuk, and CathedralFest 2007 co-chairs, Pat and Amy Campagna, are collaborating together with Brother William Woeger, FSC, Cathedral Arts founder and executive director, on the celebrations.
CathedralFest 2006 has a Spanish theme and will focus on the Spanish Architectural Heritage and its related history and culture. In 2007, CathedralFest will highlight the ethnic diversity of the communities that participated in the erection of the cathedral.
'This is really a diocesan celebration," Brother William said. 'The parish is obviously celebrating, but the cathedral is the mother church of the whole diocese."
Some people would wait until the 100th anniversary and mark 100 years then, but from the start, Father Michael Gutgsell, rector of the cathedral and pastor of St. Cecilia Parish, has encouraged his parishioners to take the 100th year and use it as a way to remember, gather stories and celebrate.
'When Oct. 6, 2007, comes around, the people of the cathedral are going to be the pioneers for the next 100 year," Father Gutgsell said. 'We know what the people 100 years ago got started. We're making use of it and having the benefit and blessing of it. What will we begin to do so that 100 years from now the people of St. Cecilia Parish will have some blessing for benefits?"
St. Cecilia Cathedral is the third cathedral of the Archdiocese of Omaha. The first two were St. Mary Church and St. Philomena Cathedral, both in downtown Omaha. St. Philomena was operating as the cathedral at the time when the cornerstone at St. Cecilia was laid, but it was torn down one week later.
Until St. Cecilia Cathedral was built, St. Cecilia Church served as a pro-cathedral or a cathedral in place of a cathedral. It had been transported from its original site to the current property of St. Cecilia Cathedral, Father Gutgsell said.
The significance of marking the dedication of the cornerstone of the third cathedral is that the cathedral stands as the one church with the unique relationship to the archbishop, he said. It has his care.
'That's the place where he ordains priests and ordains deacons and consecrates the oils for the sacraments, where he mandates extraordinary ministers and lectors. That's where all of the principal feasts of the liturgical year are celebrated by the archbishop," Father Gutgsell said. 'The cathedral is the place where the archbishop unites and calls to himself the whole archdiocese. From that standpoint, its cornerstone is a symbol or emblem of the relationship of the archbishop to all the other parishes across the archdiocese."
Father Gutgsell said he hopes that throughout the year he will collect enough stories and photographs from St. Cecilia Cathedral parishioners that a history of the parish "“ of the people and the community "“ can be written. As of today, three histories of the cathedral churches exist, but there is no history of the people, he said.
'I hope it puts us in a position to look forward and see what kind of people we are going to be heading into this next century of the church that is now ours to be custodians of," Father Gutgsell said.