Cincinnati archdiocese celebrates 200 years, looks forward 

Archbishop Schnurr Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, outside the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains at the bicentennial Mass for the archdiocese/ The Catholic Telegraph

On June 19, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati celebrated its bicentennial with a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving offered by Archbishop Dennis Schnurr at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains. 

At the Mass, Schnurr re-consecrated the archdiocese to Jesus through Mary. In his homily, he reflected on the growth and successes of the archdiocese in the 200 years since its founding. He also encouraged the faithful to continue the work of the Church by asking: “What in God’s plan must we do next?”

“The care and affection of God for His people of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati that we celebrate today is not unique to us. It is part of God’s constant providence,” Archbishop Schnurr said in his homily. 

“It is what has been going on from the very beginning. Loving and leading and pardoning and protecting and enlightening and enlivening is what God does as a matter of course,” he said, “and that is not going to change.” 

Pope Pius VII established the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in June 1821. The archdiocese, only the ninth diocese to be established in the United States at the time, originally encompassed the entirety of Ohio and the present-day state of Michigan, as well as parts of present-day Wisconsin. 

When bishop-elect Edward Fenwick set off to take possession of his new diocese at its founding, he faced a difficult journey and had to swim the Kentucky River on his way to Cincinnati, Schnurr said. 

Archbishop Schnurr noted that although the territory of the archdiocese has shrunk considerably since its founding, there are twice as many Catholics living in the archdiocese of Cincinnati today - some 440,000 - than resided in the United States in 1821. 

“This local Church has welcomed waves of immigrants, dealt with economic depressions and wars, and enjoyed times of unprecedented growth and prosperity,” he said. 

“And throughout it all, Our Lord’s teaching has been proclaimed, His sacraments celebrated, and His people bound together in the Body of Christ which is His Church.”

Despite expressing some uncertainty about the future - particularly whether the archdiocese will have enough priests in the coming years - Schnurr proclaimed confidence that God will continue to bless the archdiocese as He has in the past. He also emphasized the responsibility of the faithful to cooperate with God’s grace and support the mission of their local Church. 

“[T]o be alive as Church, as an archdiocese, and as the people of God, we must be keenly aware that, regardless of whether we celebrate successes or stress over challenges, what we see today is not the finish line,” he said. 

“We are all part of the Lord’s plan for his Kingdom,” he said. “God has given each of us something specific to contribute.” 

The Mass was also the culmination of a 33-day archdiocesan pilgrimage for the bicentennial celebrations. Beginning on May 16, participants walked over 300 miles with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, ending at the cathedral basilica in time for the Mass. Pilgrims signed up for three-day walking shifts for the pilgrimage, and made stops at 36 parishes throughout the archdiocese.

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