Date of Review: I attended the Feast of the Holy Innocents Mass at 7am on December 28th, 2020 (a weekday mass), presided by Fr. Cornelius Ezeiloaku.
Architecture: Built in the Neo-Baroque style as a parish church from 1890-1893, replacing an earlier structure, this Cathedral is great for the town it’s in (New Ulm, MN, population ~13,000). The exterior is in great condition for a church of its age, and the side entrances from 1940 blend well into the Cathedral’s structure. In 1957, Pope Pius XII established the Diocese of New Ulm from territory of the Diocese of St. Paul [Now the Diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis], and named this parish the Cathedral.
Celebrant(s): Fr. Ezeiloaku had mass and did a great job – including spending what felt like a long time on the homily, relative to that at most daily masses. I took away from the homily that, on this Feast of the Holy Innocents, it was important to realize what those infants (killed by King Herod in his misguided attempt to murder Christ) did to stand up for Jesus without knowing Him. Fr. Ezeiloaku challenged the congregation to in turn stand up for Christ, no matter the consequences.
Congregation: I benchmark a daily mass as whether it felt more well attended than a Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco, and this did…26 or 27 congregants in addition to the priest, which is great in a town this size. The congregation was engaged in mass and beforehand (see Volunteers below).
Decor: The interior was finished over the 10 years subsequent to the Cathedral’s completion, so late 1890s and early 1900s, and it is again fantastic for a town this size. You can tell the priority that the German immigrants placed on their faith by the quality of the decor, especially the stained glass on the sides of the nave.
Location: The City of New Ulm is a German immigrant town, and the fourth biggest in its diocese (none are over 20,000 people), so this is a very rural diocese. The Cathedral is close to New Ulm’s main street, and easily reachable from anywhere in the city. Given the great location, I would have stayed a few days – there’s a brewery, wineries, historical sites, but…pandemic.
Musicians: Weekday mass, so no musicians.
Volunteers: The congregation was led in the rosary prior to mass by a volunteer, and approximately 20 congregants were there early praying the rosary. Impressive for a 7am mass.
Overall: A small Cathedral well supported by a small community, back to its history as a parish church. The German immigrants in New Ulm put a lot in to the church, and Fr. Ezeiloaku, who I believe is an immigrant himself, embodied their spirit. I’d highly recommend visiting, especially after the pandemic opens up some of the nearby historical sites.