Cathedral of the St. Joseph the Workman – La Crosse, WI

Date of Review: I attended the Christmas Eve Mass “In the Night” at 7pm on December 24th, 2020. Bishop Callahan Presiding.

Architecture: Gothic Revival Cathedral completed in 1962? Bishop Treacy (the mastermind behind the new Cathedral) did a great job of sticking to a historical style in the rebuild of the parish which had been founded in 1863 by German immigrants to separate from the English/French speaking church of St. Mary’s. The Mary and Joseph theme continues throughout the Christmas weekend for me and in Cathedrals in general. It looked like they’re working on some tuckpointing/cleanup of the limestone on the outside, hence only one view to avoid a picture of scaffolding.

Celebrant(s): Bishop Callahan did a great job of celebrating the mass, with a number of assistants, including the Cathedral’s rector. The Homily – one child (Jesus) had a significant historical impact on the world, and it is important that we embrace all life from conception so that all children can reach their potential. The homily was very much in-line with what I heard many times from one of Bishop Callahan’s predecessor, then Archbishop, now Raymond Cardinal Burke.

Congregation: A little disappointing for attendance given the orthodoxy of the diocese historically, but the congregants were active participants.

Decor: Simple, but elegant. The choir stalls on the sides of the altar definitely made me happy, even though it is because they remind me of a church the Anglicans stole from us.

Location: Right in downtown La Crosse, can’t beat it. Given the time the diocese was erected, the location isn’t surprising, though if it had been founded nowadays, one wonders whether the see would have been established somewhere more central in the diocese.

Musicians: Great work, all from the choir loft, and the organ looked fantastic.

Volunteers: Very active – greeters in the Narthex, ushers, and a number of individuals who appeared to be from groups supportive of the church who walked in the procession.

Overall: Weak attendance, but the design and the ability of the presiding Bishop (who, for the first time in 42 years of priesthood, was not saying mass at midnight on Christmas), as well as the volunteers and active participation, made up for it. I’d imagine there would be more to see in the town if I stuck around as well.


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