April 21, 2006

Changes in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral unveiled during Holy Week

By Sean Gallagher

When worshippers gathered at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis during Holy Week, they may have noticed some changes there.

Some furnishings in the sanctuary were relocated. A set of Stations of the Cross were added to the walls of the church’s nave. And portraits of Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin and the Servant of God Simon Bruté have been hung in its vestibule.

Father Patrick Beidelman explained that the changes were the result of conversations that he had with Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein after he began his ministry as the rector of the cathedral and pastor of the cathedral parish last summer.

Nevertheless, he said that the changes are not necessarily permanent.

“We’re trying all of this,” Father Beidelman said. “It’s very much kind of an interim trial. It’s something we’re doing on an interim basis to try out some new positionings, modifications and additions.”

He also spoke in appreciation about the cathedral parish’s role in the changes.

“I’m really grateful for the parish community’s willingness to be flexible and allow things to be shifted to try out a new arrangement and some modifications,” he said.

Although cathedrals, including SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, are frequently freestanding parishes with their own pastor, they are also closely connected with the ministry of bishops, who ordinarily celebrate major diocesan liturgies there.

In the sanctuary, three changes were made.

The cathedra, the chair used by the archbishop during cathedral liturgies, has been relocated from the middle back portion of the sanctuary forward to the left side of the area.

Father Beidelman said that this will allow the archbishop to be seated closer to the assembly while also placing the cathedra in its more traditional position on the left side of the sanctuary.

The ambo has been moved from the left to the right side of the sanctuary.

Finally, a large space at the back of the sanctuary was opened up when the cathedra was moved.

During archdiocesan liturgies, it will be used to seat concelebrating priests and other ministers. During parish liturgies, the cathedral’s choir will be located there.

Ed Greene, the cathedral’s music director, said the changes will aid in the choir’s music ministry.

“[It was] very exciting,” he said, “because I knew from my own experience and from the experience of some of my choir folks who are engineers that the acoustics were going to be even better.”

Father Beidelman said opening the back of the sanctuary will benefit liturgies in a number of ways.

“It gives me some flexibility with the seating of priests at archdiocesan liturgies,” he said. “But it also gives me a placement of the choir that kind of completes a kind of line of the gathering of the assembly with the ministers around the altar.”

The Stations of the Cross that were added to the cathedral had originally hung on the walls of Assumption Church in Indianapolis. That parish was closed on Dec. 31, 1994.

The stations had been stored since that time at the archdiocese’s Xavier Building in Indianapolis.

Father Beidelman said that while these stations may not become a permanent fixture in the cathedral, for the time being they will aid in the devotional life of archdiocesan Catholics.

“I think the addition of the stations will give people another opportunity for devotional prayer, to express their piety, to just reflect on the things of God and the presence of God in their lives,” he said. “And so because of that reason, I think it’s a nice addition.” †


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