Diocese of Syracuse Celebrates 125 Years
By Connie Berry
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was filled on a gorgeous fall day, Nov. 6, as a cardinal, archbishop and several bishops concelebrated a 125th anniversary Mass in honor of the Syracuse Diocese. Well over 100 priests, deacons and religious filled the cathedral, along with approximately 800 lay people representing every parish in the diocese. The day outdoors was spectacularly sunny as was the mood inside the cathedral. A choir made up of members of several parishes provided the music under the direction of Armand DiScenna. Jonathan Howell was cantor and James Stanley served as organist. Timothy Davenport is the music director of the Cathedral. Ginnie Lostumbo and John Marshall, co-chairs of the anniversary committee, proclaimed the readings of the Mass.
Bishop Robert Cunningham, the 10th and current bishop of the diocese, welcomed everyone to the 2 p.m. Mass, saying, “The Cathedral is everyone’s parish.” He told them they make up the “living stones” of the church of the Diocese of Syracuse. Bishop Cunningham greeted Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, as well as bishops from Albany, Rochester, Buffalo, Ogdensburg and Scranton, Pa. Retired Bishops James Moynihan and Thomas Costello were also in the sanctuary for the anniversary Mass. Archbishop Dolan was the main celebrant. Visitors included civic leaders and representatives of other religious affiliations.
“We are here to glorify God for his lavish grace and mercy on this Diocese of Syracuse,” Archbishop Dolan said at the beginning of his homily. Then he continued with, “This magnificent cathedral, this must be the most … the second most beautiful cathedral in the State of New York.”
He acknowledged the “beaming” crowd saying, “You don’t look a day over 50.”
Archbishop Dolan recalled the many blessings the diocese has experienced, including the previous bishops, saying, “If I am reading my scorecard correctly, you have the Irish winning 6 to 2.”
The Mass featured intercessions offered by those speaking Spanish, Vietnamese, Polish, Italian, American Sign Language and Korean. Children from the Sudanese community at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Syracuse, from Cathedral Academy at Pompei and from Syracuse City School District were led by Sister Joana Baidoo, IHMMC, as they danced and sang during the presentation of the gifts. The group represented Ghana, Sudan and Kenya.
After Communion, Archbishop Dolan blessed the new mosaic of Bl. Mother Marianne Cope (see story on page 14). Sister Patricia Burkard, OSF, general minister of the Sisters of St. Francis, saw the mosaic for the first time.
“It’s lovely, so beautiful,” Sister Patricia said. “It has the life of Hawaii in it.”
The Diocese of Syracuse, carved from the Diocese of Albany, was established on Nov. 26, 1886. Approximately 285,000 Catholics make up the seven country diocese, and it has 133 parishes and 22 Catholic schools. There are numerous ministries and organizations serving all people across the geographic area.
The anniversary Mass marks the beginning of a series of year-long celebratory events.