April 14, 2019 - On Palm Sunday, Cardinal O'Malley Celebrates First SUnday Mass in Newly Renovated Cathedral of the Holy Cross
Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley celebrated the first Sunday Mass on Palm Sunday in the newly renovated Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
The Cathedral interior has been completely restored following a two-year renovation that was led by Suffolk Construction in collaboration with Elkus Manfredi Architects.
“The Cathedral of the Holy Cross holds a special place in the Church and the wider community,” said Cardinal Seán. “It serves as a center of worship and learning, music and social justice, healing and celebration as well as is a stabilizing presence in a diverse and emerging neighborhood. The mother church of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral has served as the site for some of our greatest observances as well as been instrumental in bringing the community together during our darkest hours as was the case following the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. We are blessed to be able to preserve this wonderful worship site for generations to follow as a testament to the historical significance it holds today and for its chapters still to be written.”
At the conclusion of the Mass, Cardinal Seán offered his annual blessing to the runners, staff and volunteers involved with the Boston Marathon.
“In addition to being the spiritual home for all Catholics of the Archdiocese of Boston and the metropolitan province of New England, the Cathedral parish serves the economically and culturally diverse South End along with its growing population of young families and many ethnic communities,” said Very Rev. Kevin O’Leary, Rector of the Cathedral. “Today, it stands not only as a monument to the Church’s historical vibrancy in Boston, but as a tangible symbol of the modern Archdiocese of Boston, and a thriving urban parish. The Cathedral is more than just a worship space. It serves as a daily center for social justice outreach to support the disadvantaged and homeless.”
The completion of the interior Church, after being closed for two-years, is a crowning moment in the life of the Cathedral parish and the Archdiocese. Earlier renovations included the restoration of the exterior in 2015 and the lower Church in 2009. The previous restoration was to the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament in 1995.
“The Cathedral of the Holy Cross is part of the soul of Boston and serves as an important bridge to our city’s past, present and future,” said John Fish, Chairman and CEO of Suffolk. “The completion of this incredible project is symbolic of our journey toward strengthening our faith as a community and leaving a better world for future generations of Bostonians. We are absolutely honored and privileged to have played a role in its magnificent transformation.”
“We wanted to design for the next hundred years but be very faithful to the original mission and intent of the Cathedral,” said David Manfredi, CEO and Founding Principal of Elkus Manfredi Architects. “At the same time, we have made it a more modern building in terms of its infrastructure and also more responsive to today’s liturgy and the multiple services that the Cathedral provides. We’ve done it with great care – it’s a very special place in our city. I think that our greatest accomplishment is in creating a place filled with light that spills out into the neighborhood, similar to the mission of the Cathedral itself. It was an honor to work with Cardinal O’Malley and his team on this important place.”
The work included new seating, restored pews, new electrical wiring and safety features including sprinklers, LED lighting, new altar, new ambo and new baptismal font installed. The work was funded by private philanthropic support. To learn more about the extensive renovation work completed click here.
Considered the “mother church” home to all Catholics in the Archdiocese, the Cathedral was designed by Irish immigrant and renowned church architect Patrick Keely. Ground was broken for the Cathedral in 1866 – over 150 years ago – and it was dedicated in 1875. The Gothic Revival structure is home to artistic and architectural treasures including a masterpiece 5,000 pipe organ and New England’s earliest and largest stained-glass collection. Its significance to the Boston Catholic community, however, goes far beyond its bricks and mortar.
Able to seat 2,000 people, the Cathedral is the center for many special occasions in the faith. In 1964, Cardinal Cushing celebrated a Solemn Pontifical Requiem Mass in memory of President John F. Kennedy with members of the Kennedy family and dignitaries. In 1979, Pope Saint John Paul II prayed at the Cathedral as his first stop in the Western Hemisphere as Holy Father.
The Cathedral hosts celebrations such as The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which draws over 1,000 worshippers with traditional Latin American music and liturgical dance. On January 1, a Mass for Haitian Independence Day is celebrated with 1,000 members of the Haitian community, and in November a Mass to remember the Vietnamese martyrs draws 2,000 Vietnamese Catholics from Greater Boston. Each year a special Confirmation is held at the Cathedral for confirmands from the Brazilian community, and last year 300 individuals received the Holy Spirit at this Confirmation. Annually the Blue Mass for first responders, the Red Mass for attorneys, and graduation Masses for Catholic high schools in Greater Boston are held at the Cathedral. In times of sadness, Boston turns to the Cathedral for solace; three days after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, U.S. President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the City of Boston at an interfaith service at the Cathedral for 2,000.
As a social justice center, the Cathedral provides:
- Help to homeless families transitioning from shelters to permanent housing.
- Free health services through its Cathedral Cares Clinic, which is staffed by a registered nurse, and semi-annual health fairs offered in collaboration with Boston Health Care for the Homeless.
- Weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
- Saint Helena House, housing for low income seniors administered by HUD.
- An off-site shelter for victims of human trafficking in collaboration with the City of Boston.
- Homeless outreach, where young members of the Order of Malta bring prepared water, clothing, and human interaction to the streets.
- A food pantry run by Catholic Charities that serves 250 families weekly.