St. Mary's Cathedral

Significance of a Cathedral

A cathedral is the home of the bishop. Since the bishop is a successor to the Apostles, it is the home of Christ's Church, just as the Vatican is the universal home of the Church on Earth. The Church of a certain area, a diocese, can claim it as their very own, no matter where they live in the diocese. It holds within it the Cathedra, the throne of the bishop, representing the power given him by Christ.

History of St. Mary's Cathedral Parish

Beginnings of a Parish

Hall County was established by an act of the legislature in 1855 and was organized in 1859. That same year, Patrick Moore and his brother, Richard, came from Iowa City, Iowa to be the first Catholic families in Hall County. They immediately sought help from the bishop in Omaha. However, it wasn't until 1861 that the first priest, Father Almire Fairmont, a Frenchman, came to visit the Hall County parishioners.

Father Fairmont celebrated the first Mass in the Moore's log cabin in the fall of that year, 3 miles west of what is now the town of Wood River. Moore's house was the home of the Rev. Anthony Moore, the first priest ordained from Hall County. About the same time that the Moores settled, the Windolph families, also Catholics, arrived in Grand Island.

Priests from Columbus or Omaha then came to the Grand Island and Wood River area once a year to confer the sacraments and celebrate Mass. In 1864, Father M. J. Ryan offered Mass once a month in homes and railroad section houses.

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Early Newspaper Clipping

Grand Island Times, January 15, 1880

There will be a festival at Liederkranz Hall on Wednesday evening, January 21st, under the auspices of the Catholic congregation of this city, to which everybody is cordially invited. The proceeds are to be used toward discharging the debt incurred in building the Catholic parsonage. The members of the committee of arrangements are James Cleary, P. Dunphy, and P. Schlessinger.

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The Cathedral is a late Gothic Revival style modeled after the Parisian Cathedral of La Sainte Chapelle. In selecting a type of English Gothic, the architects, Henry Brinkman and J. Stanley Hagan, made variations for local purposes, while preserving the true Gothic harmony in detail from nature, sculpture, paintings, and stained-glass. Gothic architecture constantly strove towards economy of material, loftiness and lightness of interior design.

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