Catholic San Francisco

Special Reports

Lent: A time to renew baptismal vows
Feb. 15, 2012
Our observance of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, a day of fast and abstinence for Catholics. At Mass on Ash Wednesday, the imposition of ashes replicates an ancient penitential practice and symbolizes our dependence upon God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Resplendent with the glory of divine grace
Apr. 20, 2011, By Cardinal William Levada
Pope Paul VI once said of the cathedral church of a diocese that “in the majesty of its building, it is a symbol of the spiritual temple that is built up in souls and is resplendent with the glory of divine grace … the cathedral, furthermore, should be regarded as ...

More than a building, the cathedral is a parish community, too
Apr. 20, 2011, By Valerie Schmalz
Inside the huge building that is St. Mary’s Cathedral there is a small but growing parish. There is the English-language parish community that includes people from nearby and who travel from afar to participate in the cathedral’s children’s and adult choirs and ...

Stalwart docents guide visitors to cathedral’s history, beauty
Apr. 20, 2011, By Tom Burke
The hospitable, knowledgeable and gracious docents of St. Mary’s Cathedral have been on the job since February 1987. Mary Hehir was the red-jacketed group’s first director with co-director Norma Kristovich.

Bishop-elect Daly to be homilist at anniversary Mass
Apr. 20, 2011
A Mass commemorating the anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption will be celebrated May 5 at noon at the cathedral. Archbishop George Niederauer is principal celebrant. Bishops from dioceses around the region are expected to concelebrate. ...

Docents shepherd 1,000 school kids every year
Apr. 20, 2011
Fifth and sixth grade students from Catholic schools in the archdiocese are invited to tour the cathedral. The entire day is docent-run from arrangements with faculty for the visit to serving lunch – always pizza – to the hungry youngsters.

Artwork’s intimacy, building’s majesty, complete sacred space
Apr. 20, 2011, By Rick DelVecchio
St. Mary’s Cathedral’s 200-foot-high atrium topped by a “skylight” cross of multicolored glass is so compelling that it is difficult not to look up when inside the church. But eyes fixed skyward will miss a good half of what makes the cathedral a powerful ...

First post-Vatican II cathedral, new St. Mary’s reflected – and rose above – turmoil of the times
Apr. 20, 2011, By George Raine
On the evening of Sept. 7, 1962, someone knocked over a rack of vigil lights at St. Mary’s Cathedral at Van Ness Avenue and O’Farrell Street, where for 75 years San Francisco Catholics worshiped, received the sacraments and marveled at the red brick gothic grandeur ...

Aspiring to ‘the holy emptiness of a great place of worship’
Apr. 20, 2011
Pietro Belluschi, one of the architects of the new cathedral, explained the project and offered personal thoughts on it in a June 3, 1970, letter to Gerald Adams at the San Francisco Examiner. Here is a transcript of the letter:

‘It was staggering!’ Witnessing the completion of St. Mary’s
Apr. 20, 2011, By Sister Michaela O’Connor
It was staggering! The walls of the shell went up and up and up to bend ultimately into the center of the great hollow and meet in a splendid cross of light above me. I stood transfixed on piles of dust and concrete, unable to turn away from the extraordinary experience of space ...


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