Date of Review: I attended the Feast of the Holy Family Mass, at 6pm on December 27th, 2020. Fr. Scott Pogatschnik presided.
Ironically for the Feast of the Holy Family, this was the second Cathedral of the day named after St. Mary, I’ve also noticed a number of Cathedrals on my travels named after St. Joseph. Mary and Joseph are models for us all to aspire to.
Architecture: An Italianate architectural style, this church was originally designed and built as a diocesan parish in the late 1920s and early 1930s, completed in 1931, apparently based on the pastor’s recollection of a basilica he saw in Italy. After the diocese’s then Cathedral was destroyed in a fire in 1933, the Bishop asked to make St. Mary’s the Cathedral, and Pope Pius XI did so in 1937. Though it lacks one of my favorite features in a Cathedral – a central dome – it was otherwise architecturally impressive, especially given its original construction as a regular diocesan parish.
Celebrant(s): Fr. Pogatchnik did an excellent job with the service; his homily focused on the challenges we have faced in 2020 interacting with our families and how, both in historical times with the Holy Family, and in the modern era, the love and support of a family is critical to each of us as individuals.
Congregation: Attendance seemed about average, which for a church in Minnesota during the pandemic could be considered a mild victory. One thing I noted at this service is there was a much better blend of young families with children under 10 years old than I am accustomed to seeing at Cathedrals. As a young adult I used to cringe when I heard a baby cry in church, but now I smile, because I know that means the next generation will be there.
Decor: Less ornate than some Cathedrals, but I appreciated the simplicity and the fact that the supporting columns’ marble was a darker shaded blend. The organ in the apse was (obviously) an addition later in the Cathedral’s existence, added in the mid-1980s. Tabernacle is off to the right side; in most smaller cathedrals I’m used to it being directly in the center of the church behind the altar, but with the organ’s move, it makes sense to have the tabernacle to the side.
Location: Near the central business district of St. Cloud, parking could be difficult on a weekday, but there’s a nice public (paid) lot across the street that was available on Sundays.
Musicians: A pianist and a male cantor (who sung from the altar). The cantor is probably the second best male cantor I can recollect, after a regular one at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
Volunteers: Not a heavy presence of volunteers here – no greeters, no ushers; some of this may be predicated on the State of Minnesota guidelines for the pandemic, but still a little disappointing.
Overall: Nothing over the top great here, but also nothing severely disappointing. The dynamism of the priest and the cantor were the biggest plusses, with the lack of volunteers being the biggest disappointment.