Blessing of Renovated St. Columba Cathedral Sanctuary
The Most Rev. David J. Bonnar, Bishop of Youngstown, will bless the newly renovated sanctuary space in St. Columba Cathedral during Mass on Saturday, December 23, at 4 p.m.
As part of the Diocese of Youngstown’s celebration of its 80th Anniversary this year, the Cathedral’s sanctuary—which encompasses the altar, ambo (or pulpit) and cathedra (the Bishop’s chair), as well as locations for the deacons, additional priests and cantor—has been renovated to bring about greater harmony between the elements of the space and their liturgical importance. The renovations also enhance the beauty of the cathedral’s prominent mosaic, along with additional aesthetic improvements.
Using marble from the side altars, which were removed (and were no longer being used, as part of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council), a new cathedra was constructed. The cathedra now includes the Coat of Arms of the Bishop, which is standard in cathedrals around the world. The word “cathedral” is derived from the word cathedra, as it is the place in which the Bishop’s chair is located. Some of the marble was also used to make a stand for the cantor that unifies the look of the altar, ambo and cathedra. The platform on the existing ambo was extended for safety reasons. The altar has also been slightly elevated and the sanctuary floor has been reinforced with steel beams to withstand the weight of a new top for the altar, which will be installed in the new year.
Aesthetically, the beauty of the space has been enhanced with a thorough cleaning of the large mosaic on the back wall. New lighting has been added to accentuate it as a work of art. An accent of green on the sanctuary floor also complements the mosaic. The sconces on the walls have been refinished. Handrails will be added in the future.
Monsignor Robert Siffrin, Rector of St. Columba Cathedral, oversaw the cathedral renovation, working with a committee of clergy, laity and experts. Very Rev. Michael Balash, Vicar for Clergy and Diocesan Director of Worship, and Very Rev. John-Michael Lavelle, Vicar for Missionary Discipleship, also contributed in leadership roles. The liturgical design consultant for the project was Mark Cousineau and Henninger’s, Inc., which is based in the Cleveland area.