Utah Catholics welcome highest-ranking American from Vatican

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Members of Utah's Catholic community gathered to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of their cathedral and to welcome a representative from the Vatican.

Saturday's service was the culmination of a year's worth of planning and a week-long celebration of the Cathedral of the Madeleine. Many Catholic Church leaders traveled to be a part of this Mass, most notable was Cardinal Levada.

Saturday Aug. 15, 2009 brought 1,000 Catholic faithful to an historic anniversary Mass. One hundred years ago, those who came before gathered to dedicate the new Cathedral of the Madeleine.

The Most Rev. George H. Niederauer, Archbishop of San Francisco, said, "It is a wonderful thing to celebrate the growth of the Catholic Church here and the beauty of this institution, the Cathedral of the Madeleine and, most especially, the place it does have in the community's heart."

All waited to hear from the highest ranking American ever at the Vatican, who used to preside over the Diocese of Salt Lake City as its Metropolitan.

His Eminence William Joseph Cardinal Levada told the crowd, "Our gathering here in the Cathedral of the Madeleine today is an invocation of the community of saints. It is an act of hope on the life to come, upon which, we set our hearts."

Cardinal Levada spoke with KSL 5 News, saying, "The Catholic Church that I've seen here in Utah is a strong church. People know their faith, and they are very active in apostolic, charitable works, and I think they've had good leadership in the nine bishops they've had since Bishop Scanlon."

He added, "It's called the Catholic Church because that means a universal church and, therefore, no part of it, however far, is far from our Holy Father."

For members of the diocese, just to be at the cathedral was a wonderful opportunity.

Camry Martinez said, "The cathedral is symbolic of the Catholic faith in Utah. It creates a great sense of community."

Guests of other faiths offered their best wishes.

Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said, "It's a wonderful thing that we're invited. We have great affection for the Catholic Church and a wonderful relationship, so it's nice to be here."

Prayers were offered for a troubled world, for those who are sick or in poverty and for those who have died, by people of different cultures, in their languages.

Cardinal Levada will be the featured speaker at the Centennial Bishop's Dinner Saturday night, a benefit for the cathedral.

E-mail: cmikita@ksl.com


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