January 26, 2015

Where we came from

Trinity High School can trace its "lineage" back to 1886 when St. Joseph High School for Boys opened its doors.  The high school closed in 1951 when Bishop Bradley High School opened in our present building and then Trinity High School opened in 1970 when Bishop Bradley merged with two other schools.

As we begin Catholic Schools Week, I thought it might be interesting to take the seniors on a tour of St. Joseph Cathedral so they could have a better sense of our heritage and to learn more about our diocese's Mother Church.  In addition, the cathedral has undergone some renovations and is quite beautiful.

The archivist for the Diocese of Manchester, Barbara Miles, graciously agreed to give the tours of the cathedral which began today.  Two groups of 25 seniors went over to the cathedral this morning and were treated to wonderful tours by Ms. Miles.  The cathedral was built in 1869, before the diocese was erected.  Prior to becoming a diocese in 1884, New Hampshire was part of the Diocese of Portland.  St. Joseph Church became a cathedral in 1894 and has undergone some expansions since then.  Ms. Miles explained that the church was built mostly by Irish immigrants and the stain glass windows were meant to tell a story as many of the parishioners were illiterate and they needed pictures to help learn the faith.  The windows are beautiful and are insured for $1 million each!  The windows on one side of the cathedral tell the life of Christ while the other side are pictures of saints, parables, etc.

After Vatican II, Bishop Ernest Primeau (1909-1989) felt that the council called for more simple churches and church architecture.  So he had the old high altar taken down (they were taken down with a sledgehammer) as well as the Stations of the Cross and other ornamental objects.  However, in recent years efforts have been made to restore the cathedral to some of its former beauty and providentially, Holy Trinity Church in Boston had closed and their high altar and Stations of the Cross were made available to the cathedral.  The high altar was similar to the one that used to be in the cathedral so the diocese bought it and after being cut into 75 pieces and transported up, it was recently installed.  In addition, part of the altar from Holy Trinity was placed on the existing altar and the Stations of the Cross were hung.  The ceiling in the sanctuary was painted blue and other cosmetic changes were made.  The result is quite breathtaking but they are not done.  They still want to paint the rest of the ceiling and the pillars and install new carpeting but they need to raise more funds to complete the project.

From here, we toured the sacristy, the crypt where the first five bishops of Manchester are buried, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and the library which is the former rectory and now a sort of meeting place.  Ms. Miles did a brilliant job keeping the student's attention and explaining the art, history, and architecture.  Our last two tours were scheduled for tomorrow but with the pending Blizzard of 2015 coming we will have to reschedule.  I pray that these tours give our students a deeper appreciation of our history and how we as a Church bring glory and honor to God.

You can lean more about the cathedral and its history here.

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