Cathedral Towers

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The masterwork of architect Thomas Rogers Kimball, the Cathedral was the tenth largest in the United States at the time of its construction.

Built on one of the highest points of the city, its twin towers are a familiar and beloved landmark. 

In 1959, the Cathedral was declared complete and debt-free, requirements for consecration.

On April 9 of that year, it was consecrated by Archbishop Gerald Bergan and eighty priests.

Omaha had been named an archdiocese in 1945, with James Ryan the first archbishop.

The majesty of Saint Cecilia Cathedral has been appreciated for many decades. Firmly crowning a high ridge west of downtown Omaha, the monumental structure catches the first light of sunrise; its facade and west towers reflect the gorgeous sunset. From miles away, in all directions, its silhouette catches the eye and its towers pierce the vast prairie sky. For many years, many people, whatever their religion, have acknowledged this as Omaha's uniquely noble landmark.

We must appreciate the efforts of the pioneers who built towns and productive farms and businesses on the great prairies. We must place ourselves among the immigrants who labored so strenuously to establish families and homes in an environment so different than what they had known, an environment physically and sometimes socially hostile. We must record the efforts of many individuals, most but not all communicants of the Catholic Church in Nebraska. Some of the individuals had wealth, but not most of them. Some had power or fame, but not many. Some had amazing intelligence, talent, and ambition, but no one alone could have produced the achievement that is Saint Cecilia Cathedral; this was the achievement of the People of God.

Our Cathedral builders, whether from a century ago or in the beginning years of a new millennium, have succeeded humbly, and yet with pride, in making the great mass of stone high on an Omaha ridge, a tangible proclamation that Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour is here present to all. The great towers do not intimidate, the splendid walls and gem-like windows do not boast with worldly conceit; they shine in silence, and then when the mighty bells ring out, the edifice sings: "You share in the love and the glory of God."

In the words of Psalm 84: "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts."

 

~ Thomas A. Kuhlman, Phd.D, The Beauty of Thy House, 2005

 

The Story of the Bells

Completion of the interior was foremost in the minds of all parishioners, so the towers and bells were scheduled for last. At long last, in 1958, the dream of the Archdiocese of Omaha and the Cathedral parishioners in particular, was being fulfilled. The church's twin towers were capped with two six and a half-foot bronze crosses. Reaching some two hundred twenty-two feet in the air, the tower completions were done by the Mainelli Construction Company at a cost of $135,000. All that remained to be done now were the bells. In October of 1958 the bells were donated to the Church by Edward C. Epsen, in memory of his late son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Edward J. (Helen) Epsen. Installation was preceded by a consecration ceremony with Msgr. Graham presiding.

The "D" Natural (tone) bell, weighing three thousand five hundred pounds, was named for Saint Edward.

The "F" Natural, two thousand pound bell, was named for Our Lady of Lourdes.

The "A" Natural bell of eleven hundred pounds was named for Saint Helen.

The bells are electronically controlled.

 

~ St. Cecilia's Cathedral, 1981

 

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