The annual Bishop’s Dinner, a fund raiser that supports the Cathedral of the Madeleine and its ministries, will be held Sept. 26 at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City.
SALT LAKE CITY — "The importance of the Cathedral of the Madeleine to the Diocese of Salt Lake City transcends the diocese’s individual bishops, said Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald, diocesan administrator. "By calling this annual event the Bishop’s Dinner, we are using the office of the bishop to show the importance and the value of the Cathedral in the life of the Catholic Church in Utah. The Cathedral of the Madeleine is the mother church of the diocese, and we all bear a responsibility for the care and maintenance of this wonderful cathedral, one of the finest cathedrals in the west."
Cathedrals, he said, are the temples of the New Testament.
"It is a privilege and an honor to care for and support the Cathedral. It’s like the family home we have received from those who came before us. The Diocese of Salt Lake City is a living community, and the Cathedral is a celebration of the Church’s presence here," he said in a July 17 interview with the Intermountain Catholic. "Its tremendous stained glass windows remind us of the Joyful and Glorious Mysteries of the rosary brilliantly in color and light and tell the stories of our faith. We are reminded of the sorrowful mysteries in the apex of the Cathedral behind the altar, in the Stations of the Cross, and in the remarkable statuary throughout the Cathedral."
Msgr. Fitzgerald relates to the Cathedral in a very personal way. He was both baptized and ordained in the Cathedral of the Madeleine. As a graduating senior of Judge Memorial Catholic High School in 1954, he received his diploma from Bishop Duane G. Hunt in the Cathedral. He’s rubbed elbows with the saints and holy men and women portrayed in its windows and on its walls all his life.
"My family lived in Cathedral Parish for most of my life," he said. "The Judge Memorial Choir used to sing in the Cathedral for important feasts. I remember singing there many times. I’ve also conducted and attended many funerals in the Cathedral for friends, relatives, for priests and religious men and women who have served in the diocese."
He points out some of the most moving and touching pieces of artwork as significant to this very important building. "In the Cathedral of the Madeleine, we have a great celebration of the saints, from St. Cecilia as she is portrayed in the rose window above the choir loft, to the statues in the niches throughout the Cathedral, to the Old Testament and New Testament saints we see portrayed in the murals above the sanctuary.
"It is such a gorgeous experience to be able to gather as a diocese in the Cathedral of the Madeleine," he said. "Not only do we have vivid images of the three persons of the Holy Trinity in the sanctuary, we also know that in our own time, we have participated in the remarkable restoration of the Cathedral. First, under Bishop Joseph Lennox Federal, the exterior of the Cathedral was restored. Then, between 1990 and 1994, under Bishop William K. Weigand, the interior was restored."
The Cathedral’s restorations remind Utah Catholics and others that we who make up the Church in Utah value the Cathedral of the Madeleine, which was planned and built when early Utah Catholics, who numbered less than 3,000, raised $300,000 to build the Cathedral of the Madeleine, Msgr. Fitzgerald said. That was a huge amount of money in 1900, when ground was broken for the stone edifice by the diocese’s first bishop, Lawrence Scanlan. It was still a lot of money in 1909, when the Cathedral was first dedicated by Bishop Scanlan, whose remains are interred beneath the original high altar of the Cathedral.
The Cathedral’s two massive restoration projects and its enhanced artwork, were undertaken to assure that the Cathedral would remain solid and strong well into the future, and to bring the Cathedral’s architecture in line with the changes brought by the Second Vatican Council.
"The Bishop’s Dinner is just one more modern mechanism to protect the Cathedral of the Madeleine from deterioration, and to guarantee the longevity of the Cathedral for the whole Catholic Church and the community at large," he said, "It truly is a Cathedral for all people."
Msgr. Fitzgerald cites the many contributions the Cathedral of the Madeleine makes to the community at large, from its Good Samaritan Program, which helps meet the needs of the poor and vulnerable communities in Salt Lake City, to the Cathedral’s many cultural programs and activities like its annual organ festival and its Madeleine Festival of the Arts and Humanities, all of which are offered to the community free of charge. And there is, of course, the Madeleine Choir School.
"The Cathedral building itself, in its architectural design and its interior decoration is specifically ours," he said. "It is a church that reminds us what makes us different from our neighbors. It is full of symbols of our history, and it is a jewel."
Msgr. Fitzgerald said the Cathedral of the Madeleine also stands as a reminder of the Church’s constancy in a world of rapid and constant change.
"It has seen many generations pass. We have a responsibility to care for the Cathedral if we expect it to be here, to hold all those memories, and to symbolize, too, this moment in our lives as we prepare for the ordination and/or installation of our new bishop."
On Aug. 15, the Cathedral Parish and the Diocese of Salt Lake City will kick off three years of pastoral celebration of the centennial dedication of the Cathedral in 2009.
"The Cathedral is so important to the liturgical life of this diocese," he said. "We celebrate the annual Chrism Mass in the Cathedral, Our Holy Week ceremonies, the annual Rite of Catechumens, our ordinations, the Christmas Midnight Masses; everything from our big feasts to the smaller, daily Masses, which are central to our faith, are celebrated in the magnificent Cathedral of the Madeleine."