National Shrine for Saint Paul

Not surprisingly, it’s the impressive cathedral church for the city that bears the name of the Apostle to the Gentiles. A CNS story gives some details for the latest US national shrine, announced two weeks ago. The original piece is in the Catholic Spirit, the archdiocese’s print organ. Msgr. Anthony Sherman of the US Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship:

This was a church that, even by its design and architecture, revealed the life of St. Paul and the challenges of his ministry and his preaching and proclamation. We’re hoping that … this shrine in particular might be an impetus for evangelization, that people will get the spirit of St. Paul and begin to want to try and reach out and proclaim the message of Christ.

Father Joseph Johnson, cathedral rector, shed a bit of light on the application process. (Yes, one must fill out an application form, receive a visiting bishop-representative from the USCCB, and provide all sorts of information on the site.) These days, a national shrine must be able to accommodate national pilgrimages.

My mom used to run parish trips to shrines in Québec: Montreal, de-Beaupré, and Trois-Rivières. In our Italian Catholic parish, St Joseph, as you might imagine, had a substantial and prayerful following. Some years, Mom packed three busloads–and we were just one parish. I’ve been on the travel end of these pilgrimages: people are very devoted to these saints. I wonder about the fervor for Saint Paul. Has it really surged during this special year? If so, the Cathedral of St Paul is well-equipped to handle substantial numbers of visitors. I believe the nave of the church seats close to 3,000.

Father Johnson said the cathedral began the application process when the pope first announced in June 2007 that the church would observe a year of St. Paul beginning the following June. The priest said he felt the cathedral had a particular responsibility to heed the jubilee year’s call to greater devotion to St. Paul.

He also thinks the national shrine designation honors the vision of the cathedral’s founder, Father Lucien Galtier, the first priest to establish a parish in the area in 1840. Because of his devotion to the saint, he named the log chapel he built after St. Paul, which led to the name of the city.

“Father Galtier looked to the person of Paul when he arrived in this wilderness, and it’s interesting that now the universal church has said we’re all going to do that,” Father Johnson said.

To develop the human and spiritual connections to Saint Paul and the shrine, they’ve established the Archconfraternity of the Apostle Paul. ($15 annual dues) There’s a fivefold aspect to this apostolate:

  • Greater devotion to St. Paul and his intercession.
  • Study of and reflection on the Pauline epistles in the New Testament.
  • Practice of corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
  • Commitment to evangelization, especially in everyday encounters
  • Connection with the spiritual life at the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul.

In preparing my liturgy presentations this past week, I noticed in Sing to the Lord a reiteration of the notion that liturgy is intended to produce certain fruits in the believers who worship. Section 9 reads, “Charity, justice, and evangelization are thus the normal consequences of liturgical celebration.” Can the same principle be applied to the apostolates of devotion and prayer? It seems the archconfraternity is on that track with points three and four, above.

Any comments, especially from people in the Twin Cities, or connected with the cathedral parish?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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