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March 1, 2009

Cathedral ‘raising the roof’Donations to repair fire damage coming from around country

By Michelle Martin


A cathedral is the home church of an entire diocese, a focal point for the whole local church.

So when Holy Name Cathedral was damaged by a fire Feb. 4, Father Daniel Mayall, the rector and pastor of the cathedral parish, wasted no time in reassuring the faithful that the cathedral would continue to offer services and that the building would be repaired and reopen — and asking for help to make that happen.

The “All Join Hands to Raise the Roof” campaign will get a big boost March 30 from a fundraising dinner at the Palmer House Hilton. The dinner for 1,200 was donated by the hotel, so all proceeds will go towards repair expenses.

Tickets range from $100 a person for cocktails and dinner to $5,000 for a table of 10, with a private pre-cocktail reception with Cardinal George and Mayall and a gift of a wooden artifact from the cathedral ceiling.

Funds for two projects

Proceeds will help cover the costs of repairs to the cathedral and its roof, including work done last year after decorative wood pieces began falling from the ceiling. Inspections showed that the roof structure had been compromised over its 133-year life, and the cathedral was closed for more than six months as engineers figured out how to support the roof.

While the cathedral reopened for weekend Masses at the end of August and for daily Masses in November, crews were still working to shore up the pillars inside the walls that support the roof. That work was supposed to be completed this August.

The total tab for that repair was expected to approach $8 million; it already topped $7 million, Mayall said.

The cathedral staff have not yet received any estimates for how much it will cost to repair the damage from the Feb. 4 fire or how much of that damage will be covered by insurance. Investigators have not determined the cause of the fire, although suspicion has been cast on a de-icing system for the roof.

But help has been coming in, from individuals, from other parishes and even non-Catholic congregations in the Chicago area and from Catholics around the country.

“There was one day last week when I literally opened envelopes from Washington state, Maine, Florida and California,” Mayall said. “They all had contributions. The support has been overwhelming.”

After having the cathedral closed last year, the staff was able to put plans in place very quickly to have weekend Masses in the parish center auditorium and daily Masses in the parish center club room. One advantage this time is that the St. James Chapel at the Archbishop Quigley Center is available for weddings; last year, it was being renovated as well, forcing the cathedral staff to scramble to find available churches.

Many of the upcoming liturgies and rites that normally would be celebrated in the cathedral have already been relocated.

Rites moved

The Rites of Election for people who will be entering the church at the Easter Vigil, are being celebrated in the chapel at St. Rita High School, 7740 S. Western Ave. The chrism Mass, at which the sacred oils that will be used for sacraments throughout the year are blessed and distributed, will be celebrated April 7 at St. John Brebeuf Parish in Niles.

The cathedral parish will have two Easter Vigil Masses on April 11, Holy Saturday. The Mass for parishioners will be celebrated in the parish center auditorium, and the Mass for people who are receiving the Rites of Initiation will be celebrated at St. Joseph Parish, 1107 N. Orleans St.

Other Lenten traditions, including the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and the Good Friday liturgy, will take place in the auditorium, and Stations of the Cross will be offered every Friday during Lent in the club room. Stations of the Cross on Good Friday will likely be in the auditorium, Mayall said.

Weddings and other special events scheduled for the cathedral through May have been told they must find new places. That includes the ordination of priests for the archdiocese and four high school graduations.