The dedication of a church is meant to set apart a building for the divine worship of the Church. Almost everything we use in the worship of the Church is blessed and consecrated and taken out of the common and secular use to be used only for the worship of the Church: the sacraments, but above all the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is why we dedicate churches.
The ceremony of dedication is an ancient ceremony in which the bishop anoints the walls of the church, blesses the church and consecrates the altar. For the anointing and consecration of the church the bishop uses Holy Chrism, the oil consecrated by him on Holy Thursday. This is the oil used at baptisms, ordinations and to bless the most sacred things. This is done in churches to remind us that a dedicated place is indeed a holy place. When we are baptized we are reminded that we are united to Christ in His life and death, we too are set apart to become the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church.
In the ancient dedication ceremony the bishop would trace with his crozier the Greek and Latin alphabets, the elements of the two principal languages in which Scripture and Tradition are written. For this there were two lines of ashes running transversely from end to end of the church and crossing in the center of the nave. This was done because sacred science comes to us from doctrinal authority hence the alphabet, on ashes because it is understood only by the humble, and a cross because our Faith is summed up in Jesus Crucified.
Even though it opened in 1900, our Cathedral was not dedicated until 1953. This was because Catholic churches could only be consecrated once they were free from debt. The ceremony of dedication was celebrated by Archbishop William M. Duke and 35 bishops from across Canada and the United States attended the dedication. The dedication also coincided with Archbishop Duke’s golden and silver jubilees of priestly ordination and consecration as a bishop, respectively.
Why then do we remember this event? It helps us remember those who came before us and the great sacrifice of those who built this beautiful church. We should also reflect on the privilege we have because we have this beautiful place of worship… many in the world are not as fortunate. For us this also means that we have to work to keep this place for the future, to take care of it, to help in its upkeep when we can, and to pray for the priests and the community who call this church their home.
For more information on the history of the cathedral please click here, if you want to details of the renovation of the Cathedral and the rectory please click here, and if you want to donate to help upkeep our cathedral please click the donate button in the top right corner of the page.
For a booklet with the readings for Mass please click here.