Today, with hearts full of gratitude to Almighty God, we celebrate the Solemnity of the 137th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of Saint Peter. This is truly a grace-filled day for all the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton.
The following is a message from Monsignor Rupert.
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Acts 17:24-25
My Dear Friends in Christ,
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of 137th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of Saint Peter. This occasion is celebrated as a Solemnity within the Cathedral and as a Feast in all parishes in the Diocese of Scranton. It is done so to reflect the importance of the Cathedral in the life of our local Church. It is here that Bishop Bambera has his chair, or cathedra, and it is here that we celebrate great moments in our community of faith.
During the 1984 celebration of the Cathedral’s centennial, Mayor of Scranton James Barrett McNulty observed: “This occasion is a celebration of our roots. You could say that upon this block was built the City of Scranton. The Cathedral has been the center of life for so many.” It is humbling to see that today, it continues this tradition for new generations, new families, and new events in the lives of her faithful.
In the life of our Cathedral, we see reflected the countless roles that she is called to fulfill. It is the seat of the diocesan bishop, the Mother Church of the diocese, a parish church for ever-changing numbers, an educator of our priests and deacons, and a repository of art and architecture. Within our walls have unfolded landmark historical events of the Church of Scranton – the consecration and installation of bishops as well as their funerals, the ordinations of priests and deacons, celebrations of jubilee years and renovations, and ecumenical gatherings seeking to promote a new church into being through outreach to the wider religious community.
This year has been fraught with many extraordinary challenges, perhaps the greatest being the continuing pall of the Coronavirus pandemic. In celebrating an anniversary, one cannot help but to look at the year before and think of all that transpired. Amid so much upheaval in our world, the less desired “bad” memories tend to bubble to the surface. There are, however, “good” memories of cherished events and happy occurrences. They may not have taken place in the ways in which we are accustomed, but they were, nonetheless, filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Last year, in union with our Holy Father Pope Francis and the Universal Church, Bishop Bambera declared a “Year of Saint Joseph” to be observed in the Diocese of Scranton until March 2021. During his earthly life, Saint Joseph's great mission was to be a guardian to Jesus and Mary. That guardianship extends to us today. In his weekly general audience on March 18, 2020, Pope Francis had the following words to offer: “In life, in work, in family, in joy and in sorrow, Saint Joseph always looked for and loved the Lord, earning the praise Scripture offers of being a just and wise man. Always invoke him, especially in difficult times, and entrust your lives to this great saint.”
Let us all contemplate the trials, fears, and anxieties that Saint Joseph faced while raising Jesus. In many ways, they are the same fears we face today. His trust in God kept him from losing faith in God and in His love. On this day, in a special way, let us give glory to God and remember the individuals of generations past who made sacrifices in the name of Jesus to build our beloved Cathedral Church. The bricks, wood, shingles, and mortar that make up the building represent the real sacrifices of our ancestors and the trials and uncertainties they faced in their daily lives.
The building that stands today is a testament to the faith they had in God. They trusted Him; they loved Him. Their trust in our Lord kept them from losing their faith in God and in His love. Saint Joseph had this same type of love. A carpenter by trade, he would have been very precise in his measurements and calculations to fulfill his daily work. He would have worked with attention to detail and precision. But he also lived his life within the mystery of God and in His son, Jesus whom he cared for during His earthly mission. Call upon Saint Joseph in your time of need and he will answer you with the same kind compassion and loving fidelity he had for his Son.
Above all, and of greatest importance, the Cathedral is your church. Contemplate that. She stands as both an affirmation and a reflection of all of you who make up our diocese. Just as the bishop represents the fullness of the priesthood, the pastor among pastors, so the Cathedral serves as the church among churches. We are challenged to reflect in liturgy and environment a sense of solemnity and an ongoing reminder of the continuity of apostolic succession. Our very stones are challenged to chant hymns of praise to God and to reflect the creativity of God’s creatures – of you!
Saint Lawrence, a deacon in Rome during the reign of the Emperor Valerian, serving under Pope Sixtus II remarked that the true treasure of our church is her people. The people of God are always the fundamental essence of our Cathedral – not the stone, marble, or works of art. The beauty of the cathedral environment exists to enable the people and their bishop to give glory to God. Our Cathedral is a gathering place where we learn about ourselves as the image and likeness of God and joyfully celebrate our new awareness of ourselves.
I offer the following prayer for our Cathedral and for you on this special day. Know that I personally hold each of you and those you hold dear in my prayers daily. As we look forward in blessed hope, we give thanks this day for our Cathedral which in its beauty and holiness gives us a glimpse of the glory which one day awaits us.
On this day, the day we celebrate one hundred and thirty seven years of faithful service to the people of the Diocese of Scranton and beyond, I pray that, like Saint Joseph, we learn from him that only trust in and love of God can turn doubt into certainty, evil into good, and darkness of the night into a radiant dawn.
May God bless you on this anniversary day and always!
Monsignor Dale R. Rupert Pastor, Cathedral of Saint Peter
Father of holiness and power, be present to us in this house of prayer, this place of salvation and sacrament, where Your Gospel of peace is proclaimed, and Your holy mysteries celebrated.
In this house we come to know anew the abiding of Your dwelling among us. Welcome us when we come before You as a sinful and broken people; nourish us in Your love and make us whole again.
Shape and enrich the fabric of our being so that we may truly become the Body of Christ.
As we journey forth from this venerable Cathedral; guide us by Your Word, bring us closer to fulfillment, in the vision of Your peace, and be with us on our journey through this life until we come at last to the Heavenly City of the new Jerusalem.
O Glorious Saint Peter, who, in return for your strong and generous faith, your profound and sincere humility, and your burning love, was rewarded by Jesus Christ with singular privileges, and, in particular, with the leadership of the other Apostles and the primacy of the whole Church, of which you were made the foundation stone, obtain for us the grace of a lively faith.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.