Today our parish celebrates the Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral. As the cathedral church of the Diocese of St. Augustine, we are the principal church of the 17-county area of North Florida that makes up our Diocese. Here, in the Cathedral, is the bishop’s chair – the cathedra – from which the one who is bishop of the Diocese presides over the flock entrusted to his care. The cathedra symbolizes the bishop’s three-fold responsibility of his ministry, that is, to teach, govern and sanctify the People of God.
We know from the Old Testament that the anniversary of the dedication of Temple in Jerusalem was observed each year in the Books of Maccabees. (We come to know the feast as Hanukkah.) In the mystery of the Incarnation, Christians come to know and identify Jesus as the true Temple in which His sacrifice and self-offering bring new and ultimate meaning to all worship of His heavenly Father. Therefore, since we dedicate buildings where such worship if offered, the significance of the yearly anniversary celebration is to be a remembrance of our dedication to Christ.
Blessed Pope Paul VI, who will be canonized later this year, once said: “If a church is the place of the Divine Presence, this place then is also the place for the assembly of God’s People. Therefore the church building is another place that is the soul of each believer.” If this is true for each church, dedicated and set aside as a place where God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is worshipped, how much more significant is it for a cathedral – the mother church of every diocese! And for us, America’s Oldest Parish, how significant is it for us to celebrate this day in the church where the oldest Catholic-Christian assembly has worshipped as a community of believers for over 450 years!