Archive for January, 2008|Monthly archive page

Some Personal Reflections on 2007’s Triumph of the Cross Developments

As summer moved into fall, the Building Committee’s work for a time shifted primarily to the people responsible for sending the bidding documents and details to prospective contractors and then evaluating the bids that were received. These included the architects, construction manager and diocesan facilities director. Other members of the committee expected to continue working on incorporating special elements from the closing churches into Triumph of the Cross church and cathedral. But as reported in our diocesan newspaper, The Steubenville Register, and other local media outlets, after reviewing the results of the fundraising campaign for construction of the new cathedral, the diocesan Finance Council did not give the required approval to proceed with construction. It was determined that because the capital campaign had not raised what had been anticipated, the parish and the diocese would have to borrow too much money for this project. Following the November 16, 2007 announcement, Bishop Conlon formed and is meeting with a consultation committee of some 35 members from the area parishes, pastors and diocese to consider an alternate plan regarding Triumph of the Cross Church and Cathedral. We don’t know what will happen, but the Bishop has said he would like to make his decision relatively soon.

On a personal note, I’d like to share that the past year brought some great high points as well as disapointments as we continued our work on the Building Committee. The committee includes members from all the parishes coming together to form Triumph of the Cross Parish. Throughout our 2+ years of meeting, we acknowledged the sadness and sometimes pain we felt about our parishes closing, but we’ve really been blessed to get to know one another and work together on planning and designing a new church that would truly reflect the faith and community of Catholics in each parish.

We looked forward and had hope for the future. I recall one Sunday several months ago sitting in the front pew during Sunday Mass at Holy Name Cathedral, preparing to show the “Lift High the Cross” video during the capital campaign. The choir sounded magnificant during Mass, and I closed my eyes and visualized this glorious music being sung in the new cathedral, a building whose plans had become more and more detailed. (It was still a couple of months before we’d see the first computer renderings from the architects, but we knew well sketches, drawings and floor plans.) I wish everyone could have had that kind of envisioning the celebration of Mass as I did that Morning.

Even as we were continuing to develop the designs and plans for the new church and cathedral, we could see that financial support of the capital campaign was weak in most of the Steubenville parishes. I think that by not financially supporting this project, many people were expressing their sadness and pain about their parishes being closed. But it was most difficult for me to see and hear the anger being expressed in public. Through frequent letters to the editor in the local newspaper, a number of accusations and allegations were made that were more destructive than constructive. At times language and content of public conversations were extremely negative and inappropriate. Too often words and actions expressed anger and bitterness – and I think were actually often reflecting pain. 

For the Catholic Church in Steubenville, 2007 ended much differently than it started. Divisions are deeper, the future of a church for a new parish is unknown – and our area needs hope and peace more than ever. My prayer as we approach the start of Lent, anticipating Holy Week and Easter, is that each of us – myself certainly included – will turn to God and experience the hope and peace He has for each of us in new and tangible ways. And through that, worship Him in heartfelt unity.

Jim Coyle