Saint Patrick's Cathedral opened its doors formally on May 25, 1879, and the press hailed it "the noblest temple ever raised in any land to the memory of Saint Patrick and as the glory of Catholic America." On October 5, 1910, 'America's Parish Church' "became free from debt…and an estimated that over $4 million had spent from start to the day of concentration," noted on Saint Patrick's Cathedral's website .
But with all of the excitement, anticipation, and celebrations for the Cathedral, it wasn't without obstacles for Catholics, as it was when they were unwelcomed and overshadowed by the protestants. In "The History of the Archdiocese of New York," Msgr. Thomas J. Shelley wrote that the new Cathedral was "meant to be a statement in stone of the Catholic presence..."
A lot has changed since the Cathedral's first official blessing. Yes, there are new statues, shrines, and relics of our beloved patron saints. The interior, like the exterior, are both sights to behold; indeed, one is mesmerized by the consummate workmanship and artistry of the Church. However, what hasn't changed is that people worldwide still come to pray to God and seek peace, refuge, hope, and forgiveness in His house.
But what does consecration mean? To set apart, to make or declare sacred, to make holy, and to "devote irrevocably to the worship of God by a solemn ceremony," as in consecrate a Church. The Sacred Chrism, also called holy anointing oil, is used to anoint babies at Baptism, the faithful in Confirmation, priests, and bishops at their ordinations, and for the Consecration of Churches and altars. "for whatever the Holy Spirit touches is truly sanctified and changed." (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, CL 23).
St. Patrick's Cathedral and God's Mercy
In his homily, the celebrant, Father Donald Haggerty, reminded the congregation of the countless people who have walked through the doors of Saint Patrick's Cathedral, genuflected before the altar, people who "have prayed their quiet prayers," attended Masses, and people who have come to find God." People from all walks of life, rich and poor, young and old, some famous, and others saintly, like Mother Teresa, who sat in the first pew. He acknowledged that many come to see the beauty and stones but said, "It is God's presence, the beauty of God offering himself in a real and personal way." He encouraged us to remember the privilege we have received- the "literal gift of the house of God."
Perhaps it was no coincidence that the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska on the same day. Saint Faustina recorded the revelations she received about Divine Mercy in her diary. Fr. Haggerty also asked that we think about the "countless confessions that have taken place here, serious confessions, where a person may have lost their soul..." He had us look at the image of the Divine Mercy on the northeast side of the Cathedral and connect it to God's forgiveness. He concluded by recalling one statement of our Lord to Saint Faustina: "I have inscribed your name in my hand." He suggested that Jesus might say the same thing about a church, a cathedral. "I have inscribed the name of this Cathedral in my hand, and anyone who walks in the doorway here is watched by me and has the gaze of my love upon them." The presence of our God is always available to us, day in and day out.
144 years of blessings
Omnes spoke with the Executive Director of Development, Robert Meyer, about the Solemnity. He said: "It's always wonderful to celebrate the patron saint of the archdiocese; we always do it every Saint Patrick's Day, and the special day of the Solemnity of him. It's another opportunity to highlight Saint Patrick and the Cathedral named after him. "
Ed Ford, the assistant sacristan and usher, remarked, "I am very happy to be here for the 144 anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral. We take great pride in our ministries to our parishioners, and although I won't be here for the next 144 years, I am thrilled to be part of Saint Patrick's Cathedral."
Saint Patrick's Cathedral is special for many reasons: The history, the architecture, the location, shrines, statutes, relics, and Masses. It is a place for the happy, the sad, the hopeless, the lost, the grieving, the discouraged, and for all who want to unify with God and others through the sacrament of the Eucharist. Its doors have been open for 144 years, numerous languages are spoken daily, and many ethnicities and cultures are represented. As James Joyce once wrote, "Here comes everybody." God Bless you, Saint Patrick's Cathedral.