Monday, September 9, 2013, marked the 34th anniversary of the dedication of Sacred Heart Cathedral. Rev. Msgr. Girard Sherba, who served as Rector of the Cathedral from 2000-2009, was Principal Celebrant at the 12:10 Mass.
The church, which was built in the early 1920s, was designated to be the Cathedral of Raleigh in 1924 when the Vatican established the Diocese of Raleigh. But it was not dedicated at the time.
Sitting in a front pew of the historic church prior to Mass, Msgr. Sherba explained that prior to 1983 a church could not be dedicated until payment for its construction was complete.
“The first Mass was offered October 16, 1924,” Msgr. Sherba said. “A church is dedicated only if it’s paid for. But it wasn’t paid for at the time.” The church wasn’t dedicated in the 1930s either. The likely reason was due to the renovation that took place with the addition of terrazzo floors and stained glass windows.
Decades passed before (then) Fr. Thomas Hadden became rector of Cathedral and began a renovation in 1979. “Msgr. Hadden realized it was never dedicated,” said Msgr. Sherba. “So he asked Bishop Gossman to dedicate it. On September 9, 1979, 55 years after it was named a Cathedral, it was dedicated.”
Msgr. Sherba, who was Fr. Sherba at the time, was present for the dedication and can point out the dedication candle on which he put the Chrism oil and sign of the cross on that day.
“See, there are four candles,” he said, pointing to four small candles toward the front of the church that sit on blocks mounted to the wall. “The candles are here to show this is a dedicated building.”
In his homily, Msgr. Sherba said, “This is a place of worship. A place of joy.”
Fr. Justin Kerber, C.P., current rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral, was present to welcome Msgr. Sherba to the afternoon Mass.
“The Mass prayers for a dedication are especially beautiful,” said Fr. Justin Kerber. “They remind us of how fortunate we are to have these sacred places. We have to treat them that way. We have to cherish them. I hope this is a place of beautiful sacramental worship, a place that’s a refuge for sinners and a place where people come closer to God.”