.- Restoring St. Patrick’s Cathedral will help the church’s mission continue centuries into the future, Cardinals Timothy M. Dolan and Edwin F. O’Brien said in remarks as they launched a capital campaign.
“If these majestic spires are to remain strong and lofty, if this cathedral’s once-sure foundation is to continue to bear the burdened prayers of millions who kneel here annually in humble petition, sacrifice no less than that of the poverty-stricken Catholics of the 1850s and 60s will be called for – and with some urgency,” Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Archbishop emeritus of Baltimore, said in an early morning homily at the cathedral on March 17.
Outside the cathedral, before the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan announced the $45 million first phase in the massive restoration project.
NY1 News reported that Cardinal Dolan said, “Since I arrived three years ago, we together have heard the chant, ‘Archbishop Dolan, tear down this scaffolding. Rebuild this church.’”
The lower façade of the cathedral has been covered with scaffolding for what the cathedral website called “essential structural and safety repairs.”
Another $125 million is needed for the second and third phases of the restoration, which will involve completely repairing the church interior and the church grounds.
Missing and loose mortar must be replaced to avoid further damage, while the stained glass windows need restoration and repair. A new garden and a public green space for reflection and meditation are also in the plans.
Cardinal O’Brien, a native New Yorker who is now grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, reflected on the cathedral’s more than 130 years of history.
The cathedral’s cornerstone was laid in 1858. The cathedral itself was dedicated in 1879.
“In the ensuing years since, decade after decade until now, how many have sacrificed, and far beyond their means, to help shore up these sacred walls!” he remarked.
“Within these walls the tears of the nation have been shed, through all the three wars and the innumerable crises and tragedies of the last century and a quarter; surely, and most poignantly, in the laying to rest of many dozens of 9/11 heroes whose loved ones chose this cathedral to give them final honor.”
Cardinal O’Brien’s homily urged sacrifices “in thanksgiving for the freedom of religion” which is “in startling peril at recent first signs of not so subtle government strangulation.”
He invoked the patronage of St. Patrick, whose feast was celebrated Saturday.
“Make us worthy of this cathedral, Patrick, help us restore this cathedral!” he said.