Thursday, December 14, 2017
News Roundup

Newly renovated Cathedral of St. Jude nearly ready for debut

ST. PETERSBURG

When the procession of archbishops, bishops, priests, deacons and altar servers wends its way through the newly renovated Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle on Thursday, one of the robed figures will be the pope's representative to the United States.

Besides high-ranking clerics, the dedication service celebrating St. Jude's $9 million makeover promises pageantry rich with music and incense, and the ritual anointing of a new marble altar.

The dedication of St. Jude's — "mother church" of almost a half-million Catholics in the Tampa Bay area — will be a historic occasion, says Bishop Robert Lynch, head of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, which encompasses Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando, Citrus and Pasco counties.

"I just hope that my Catholic people will be proud of it," Lynch said.

Jennifer Huffman, 38, says she can't wait to see inside.

St. Jude's is where she and her husband, Jerry, 44, became Catholics more than a year ago, and where their son, Mason, 15 months old, was baptized.

"I just can't tell you how excited I am," Huffman said.

Last week, though, the cathedral at 5815 Fifth Ave. N remained a construction zone. Mechanical saws shrieked as workers were still cutting marble for the sanctuary floor. Lifts stood near curved wooden pews and a botanical landscape of palms, bougainvillea and numerous Florida plantings were still being put in place.

"At this point in any project, nerves tend to take over," said Chris Oman, vice president for Herman Construction Services.

"We have been working seven days a week for the past couple months and will continue to do so until the night of the dedication."

It has been 15 months since work began. The new, larger cathedral, enlarged from 25,713 to 33,546 square feet, features wider side aisles with alcoves for shrines, new pews, floors, restrooms, a new roof and a baptismal font made for immersion. Accommodations also have been made for parishioners with physical limitations who read the Scriptures or serve Holy Communion.

"I think it will be a benefit to the parish and the community," said Kathy Lefferson, 73, who uses a wheelchair and now will be able to read from the ambo, or lectern, during Mass.

One striking feature of the project will be the 24-foot-high stained glass window behind the altar. A circular glass motif set in it will serve as a backdrop for the cathedral's refurbished gold-plated tabernacle.

Lynch counts the removal of the large columns that supported the cathedral's dome above the altar as a key improvement.

"Now it's one congregation united around the altar and no more pillars" to block sight lines, he said.

Now the dome is supported by massive steel beams from Belgium, concealed by what Clearwater architect Nelson E. Griffin describes as flying buttresses.

"We were trying to add elements that you would typically see in a cathedral," he said.

Built in 1963, the church also has new glass walls on its north and south sides. "We wanted to update it and bring new light to it," Griffin said.

The contemporary look is what Lynch wanted.

"I didn't want to build Chartres or Notre Dame in Paris with its stained glass windows," he said, referring to the famous European cathedrals. "I wanted to build something that when you look out, you see this gorgeous world that God created that we live in."

Thursday's service will reflect the ethnic and cultural diversity of the diocese. Representatives of various groups will take images representing their heritage to the new altar. The music that night will include selections in Vietnamese, Spanish, Tagalog, Polish, Lithuanian, Italian and French, said Christopher Berke, St. Jude's director of music.

The early part of the service — expected to be attended by dozens of clergy, including Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the papal ambassador to the U.S. — will be conducted in the dimmed church. Lynch will bless the water in the baptismal font and anoint the cathedral walls and altar before the ceremonial "lighting of the church."

For those like Maureen Ahern, co-chair of the renovation committee with Father Joseph Waters, the cathedral's rector, the dedication completes a years-long effort. It signifies "a renewed spirit in both our parish and in our entire diocese," Ahern said.

Early on, Lynch was criticized by some who objected to the extensive renovation plans. The bishop said the work was overdue, though he first tended to "other priorities" such as the Pinellas Hope program for the homeless.

"I would not build a new house for the Lord until we had housed the homeless in Pinellas County,'' said Lynch, 72, who faces mandatory retirement at 75.

"I probably will say sometime during the ceremony, that as proud as I am of this moment, I am probably more proud of how we've reached out to the poor and would rather be remembered for that, than as a brick-and-mortar bishop," he said.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

     
   
Comments
Horrified friends watch screaming woman driven to her death in Plant City

Horrified friends watch screaming woman driven to her death in Plant City

PLANT CITY — Jonathon Adams heard a scream, "like a dog getting run over by a car," then saw a minivan come tearing around the corner with a woman he knew dangling out of the passenger side.It was the start of a deadly sequence of events Dec. 8 that ...
Updated: 18 minutes ago

Column: Tax reform is the right path forward for Florida

In Washington, the tax reform process continues to move steadily forward, increasing the likelihood that Floridians will be able to keep more of their own money next year. While it has been the subject of a great deal of criticism (and outright misle...
Updated: 1 hour ago
NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

What follows below is a ranking of all 32 NFL teams. To build this list, we consulted five objective measures of team strength: Pro Football Reference’s Simple Rating System, Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average ratings...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Dade City man turns himself in on warrants for Polk armed robbery

Dade City man turns himself in on warrants for Polk armed robbery

DADE CITY — A 25-year-old man wanted in connection with the attempted robbery of a taxi driver in Lakeland turned himself in late Wednesday night after being prompted by his mother, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Edner Dely of Dade Ci...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Local widowers say baby powder caused their wives’ cancer

Local widowers say baby powder caused their wives’ cancer

Two Tampa area widowers whose wives died of ovarian cancer are suing Johnson & Johnson, joining nearly 5,000 other plaintiffs across the country who blame their illness on the daily use of the pharmaceutical company’s talcum powder.Bryan Isa’s wife, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pinellas judge: U.S. Army major found incompetent to stand trial can leave Florida

Pinellas judge: U.S. Army major found incompetent to stand trial can leave Florida

LARGO — A Pinellas circuit judge ruled this week that Roman Izzo, a U.S. Army major charged with murder but found incompetent to stand trial after he was injured in a motorcycle crash, can move to Kansas with his family.Izzo was released on $1.5 mill...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lawsuit attempts to end conversion therapy ban in Tampa

Lawsuit attempts to end conversion therapy ban in Tampa

TAMPA — A conservative advocacy group is asking a federal court to overturn Tampa’s ban on conversion therapy for minors.The City Council approved an ordinance in March that bars the controversial practice, which tries to change a person’s sexual ori...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Jabil’s fiscal results top Wall Street expectations

Jabil’s fiscal results top Wall Street expectations

ST. PETERSBURG — Jabil Circuit Inc. beat Wall Street expectations for both profits and revenue Thursday.The St. Petersburg-based contract electronics manufacturer — one of Tampa Bay’s biggest public companies — posted fiscal first-quarter earnings of...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Deputies: Fleeing suspect shoots, injures dog as he runs through yards

DOVER — While fleeing from deputies, a man shot a dog inside a fenced yard Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said they were attempting to pull over a vehicle that might have been stolen near Milagro Court and Bl...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Amtrak train strikes, kills 60-year-old woman in Lakeland

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a 60-year-old woman who was hit by an Amtrak train on Thursday.The woman was struck at 12:30 p.m. in the railroad intersection of Highway 92 East and Fairway Avenue in Lakeland, deputies ...
Updated: 2 hours ago