April 9, 1959
On Thursday, April 9, 1959, Archbishop Gerald T. Bergan and eighty priests consecrated Saint Cecilia Cathedral.
From the evening World Herald, April 9, 1959 . . .
"The ceremony opened at 8:00 am as the Archbishop led the platoon of priests in a procession three times around the outside of the building, sprinkling the walls with holy water. Each time he passed the main doors, Archbishop Bergan knocked as if seeking admittance. The third time, the procession entered chanting the Litany of the Saints, and circled the interior three times, the leader sprinkling holy water on each section of the wall. Following this ceremony, the twelve crosses along the walls were anointed with oil. Each anointing was accompanied by a Latin chant, meaning 'Let this temple be sanctified and consecrated.'"
The Rev. William Foster served as deacon. Msgr. Daniel E. Sheehan, Chancellor of the Archdiocese, assisted Archbishop Bergan.
This, according to the records, was only the second time in the history of the local Catholic church that a church was consecrated. Archbishop J.J. Harty had consecrated Sacred Heart church in 1922. The ceremony of consecration is performed only when the building is considered complete and debt free. Thenceforth the building can only be used as a church.
Thus is was so -- Saint Cecilia's Cathedral was completed, debt free, and consecrated -- a fifty-four year span of time and the aid of over two million dollars in donations. By American standards of progressive ingenuity, taking fifty-four years to build a building would be considered very, very slow. But, in comparison to other cathedrals throughout the world, the building of Omaha's cathedral was very rapid. Many of Europe's cathedrals took centuries to construct, some to this day, never completed.
A landmark of towering limestone, impressive with its massive buttresses that can be seen for miles around, the Cathedral of Saint Cecilia now stands tall as a mighty symbol of the living faith of her people. The dream building of five bishops, the nickels, pennies, and dollars of thousands of dedicated men, women, and children is "alive and well."