Msgr. Richard G. O’Neill & Christ the King

Msgr O'Neill 004

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the death of Msgr. Richard Garland O’Neill, the driving force behind the development of Christ the King in Lexington, Kentucky.

Although officially the second pastor of the parish that was founded in 1945, Msgr. O’Neill took the helm just one month after the first, Msgr. George O’Bryan, who left due to poor health that same summer.

Msgr. O’Neill presided over the building of our beautiful church, then belonging to the Diocese of Covington. Dedicated on May 7, 1967, by Bishop Richard Ackerman, Christ the King would eventually become the Cathedral when the Diocese of Lexington was established in 1988.

Christ the King’s architectural design is described as “contemporary cruciform.” A modern take on Romanesque might not be far off either, but I’m neither an art historian nor an architect.

Denis McNamara mentions Christ the King, and its architect Edward Schulte, favorably in his Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy: “Modernity and churchliness coexist,” (p. 21), and “Noble simplicity combines with dignified beauty to evoke the table of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb” (p. 191).

More information on Msgr. O’Neill, and the booklet from the church dedication, can be found on the Christ the King Archives site. The sanctuary has gone through a couple of remodelings since. The recent one corrected an unfortunate result of an earlier change. It featured the restoration of the tabernacle to the proper place, enthroned behind the altar, as the focal point.

Details of the church are included in the “Guided Tour” document on the Cathedral website, and this is a view of the sanctuary at Pentecost:

Pentecost 008

In gratitude for his great legacy, remembering Msgr. O’Neill in my prayers today!

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…

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Habemus Episcopum!

I have updated my sidebar to reflect today’s appointment of our new Bishop of the Diocese of Lexington — John Stowe, OFM Conv, the rector of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio. He becomes the third bishop of this diocese that was established by St. John Paul II in 1988.

Here are links to the announcement on the Vatican website, the USCCB site, and the press release from the diocese.

Bishop-Elect Stowe also currently serves as Vicar Provincial of the Conventual Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Consolation.

Fr. Jim Kent, the Minister Provincial, lauded the appointment:

It is with great joy the Conventual Franciscans received the news that Pope Francis has appointed our brother, Bishop-elect John Stowe, OFM Conv., to shepherd the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky. He is a man of deep faith and integrity, with a sharp and inquisitive intellect, all rooted in a genuine pastoral heart.

It’s been nearly 14 months since Pope Francis transferred our well esteemed second bishop, Ronald Gainer, to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. That announcement was made January 24, 2014, and his installation took place on March 19, 2014.

What a cause for celebration that come this St Joseph’s Day, we know our new bishop! His ordination/installation Mass is scheduled for Tuesday, May 5.

Bishop Gainer welcomed the news of his successor, noting that the “appointment of a Conventual Franciscan Friar is especially significant as the Catholic Church observes the Year for Consecrated Life.”

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville said that “Bishop-elect Stowe brings a strong spiritual presence, evidenced in his leadership at the Franciscan Shrine in Ohio, and a wealth of pastoral experience, including his service to the Latino community in El Paso, Texas.”

After all of the prayers and sacrifices offered for this very special intention, thanks be to God and to St Joseph for taking care of our particular Church.

Thanks to Pope Francis and to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Papal Nuncio, for all of his diligent work.

Finally, gratitude to Fr. Robert Nieberding who served as our diocesan administrator during the sede vacante period.

I hope this calls for a Te Deum!