Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Bismarck, ND

Date of Review: I attended the Feast of the Holy Family Vigil Mass, at 5pm on December 26th, 2020.

Architecture: Driving up to this Cathedral, I thought it looked unique, and it turns out it is, in the US. It is the only American Cathedral in an art deco style of architecture. The concrete, and lack of any variety of color on the exterior made me pause, and I left thinking this is not one of my favorite Cathedrals from an architecture perspective.

Celebrant(s): Two priests, assisted by a deacon, celebrated the mass. The principal celebrant delegated the proclamation of the Gospel and the Homily to the second priest, who appeared fairly young. The second priest (who appeared fairly young) gave an excellent homily, focused on the season and the challenges we face in being drawn away from prayer and our relationship with God.

Congregation: As you can tell by the photo below, and the date of my review, I attended in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this, Mass was well attended relative to the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses I attended in Minnesota and Wisconsin (see forthcoming reviews). The congregation participated in the mass, and stuck around until the end.

Decor: Inside the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, the decor is reflective of the 1940s-1950s finishing (the Cathedral was completed and dedicated in 1945, but some furnishings were supposedly added later). Overall, for a Cathedral in a diocese that contains only about 0.1% of the number of Catholics in the US, the decor seemed reasonable, but not great.

Musicians: Not overly elaborate, but there was at least one what appeared to be violinist mixed in. A decent number of singers, and at least one soloist who was excellent. Overall not anything to be considered a huge draw, but quality music and a significant number of singers given the current pandemic conditions.

Volunteers: At least three volunteers greeted me in the Narthex (which appears to double as a gathering space) before I entered the nave of the Cathedral, including a Knight of Columbus who was handing out prayer cards for a Prayer of the Family which was said prior to the dismissal by the entire congregation. There were also four ushers participating in the offertory, which seemed to be all they needed for a Cathedral with the main aisle and two side aisles. Having enough ushers seems to be a rarity nowadays.

Overall: The design of the Cathedral won’t win any awards, but the celebrants, congregants, musicians, and volunteers make up for it in creating a welcoming, respectful environment, and a great service.


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