Thursday, May 24, 2001

Basilica altar plans moving onward

By Amanda York
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Concrete has been poured for the new altar in the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, a step that will literally "bring the Church closer to the people' in accordance with Vatican II.

        The Rev. John Cahill, rector of the cathedral, said Wednesday that the $4.7 million multistage project was on time, and that workers also had started to clean the windows and ceiling.

[photo] The altar of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington will be lowered about 30 inches
(Patrick Reddy photos)
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        The renovation will move a massive, marble altar platform 25 feet closer to worshipers, a move that was protested by parishioners at first.

        Located at 12th Street and Madison Avenue, the basilica attracts as many as 70,000 worshipers a year. It is one of 35 minor basilicas in the United States and the only one in the Tristate.

        Pope Pius XII elevated the Covington cathedral to minor basilica status Dec. 8, 1953. There are only four major basilicas, all located in Rome.

        When the alter relocation was proposed, many parishioners thought it did not comply with the Vatican II edict on worship styles. They collected signatures on petitions protesting the change.

        Bishop Robert W. Muench overruled them.

[photo] Jim Meurer of Conrad Schmitt Studios, New Berlin, Wis., works on windows.
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        Parishioners can begin using the basilica again Nov. 13, when a large portion of the work is expected to be done, Father Cahill said.

        The church closed its doors to parishioners April 16 - the day after Easter - to begin the renovation. Since then, parishioners have worshiped at St. John's in Covington, Father Cahill said.

        Parishioners now seem to approve of the renovations, said Father Cahill. They watched a virtual cathedral videotape to see what the finished project would look like.

        Workers have started cleaning the cathedral's exterior, have completed rewiring and new boilers for a hot water heating system have arrived.


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