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Cathedral ‘dresses up’ inside and out for Christmas season

News of the Diocese

December 19, 2023

Cathedral ‘dresses up’ inside and out for Christmas season
Cathedral ‘dresses up’ inside and out for Christmas season
Cathedral ‘dresses up’ inside and out for Christmas season
Cathedral ‘dresses up’ inside and out for Christmas season
Cathedral ‘dresses up’ inside and out for Christmas season
Cathedral ‘dresses up’ inside and out for Christmas season
Cathedral ‘dresses up’ inside and out for Christmas season
Cathedral ‘dresses up’ inside and out for Christmas season
Cathedral ‘dresses up’ inside and out for Christmas season
Cathedral ‘dresses up’ inside and out for Christmas season

Dozens of volunteers rolled up their sleeves on Dec. 16 to help get the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist ready for the Christmas season both inside and out.

A crew of Saint Ignatius High School students spent a couple of hours hauling boxes and decorations from the cathedral basement into the church so parish volunteers could assemble the trees, fluff them, hang wreaths inside and set up the historic crèche. Then the students returned the boxes and plastic storage tubs to their spots in the basement.

Father Sean Ralph, cathedral rector, has the decorating down to a science, which makes the process more efficient for the staff and volunteers. He also treated the workers to donuts and beverages.

(See photo gallery above.)

Wreaths were hung on the outside cathedral doors the previous week. Gates enclosing the recently rebuilt courtyard also have wreaths on them.

Focal points both inside and outside of the historic cathedral are creches. The outside crèche was created a few years ago by Kenny Misconish, director of maintenance and a talented woodworker. Father Ralph said Misconish built the large, wooden stable and he researched, then purchased appropriately sized statues.

Inside the cathedral is a special crèche that was a gift to the Diocese of Cleveland from Bishop (later Archbishop) Joseph Schrembs. A native of Germany, he shepherded the diocese from 1921 until his death in 1945. He commissioned the interior crèche from a well-known artist in Munich, Germany. It resembles a small section of Bethlehem with cutouts, windows, doors and niches to place statues. There also are accessory items such as frameworks for cooking pots to hang from and other objects that would have been common at the time of Jesus’ birth.

There are townspeople, animals and other figures – including an angel – to help make the setup look realistic.

But one thing is missing from both creches: Baby Jesus. He will be placed in the manger on Christmas Eve in time for the 4:30 p.m. vigil Mass.

Another last minute, finishing touch to the interior decorations are dozens of red and white poinsettia plants that will be slipped into place prior to the vigil Mass that will be celebrated by Bishop Malesic. The bishop stopped by on Dec. 16 to check on the status of the decorating project and to thank the volunteers for their hard work. He took a few minutes to pose for a photo with the Saint Ignatius students.

Even after all the trees were placed around the sanctuary, near the main doors of the cathedral and in the naves, there was plenty of finishing work to do. Volunteers, some wearing protective gloves, fluffed up the trees to help them look more realistic. Thousands of tiny, white lights will brighten each tree throughout the Christmas season, which ends on Epiphany.

Those who visit the cathedral or watch a livestreamed Mass during the Christmas season can enjoy the decorations.

Click here for information on the cathedral Mass and confession schedule during the holiday season.

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