Who makes the cathedral beautiful for special events?

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Sunday, November 30, 2014

Whenever any big event happens at Holy Name Cathedral, a small team of parish volunteers is in charge of making the environment just as beautiful as the liturgy.

It’s all part of the liturgical experience.

“We constantly speak of beauty in the liturgy and the first thing you always think of is music. Music is what makes the liturgy beautiful. Well, liturgy is supposed to be the foretaste of heaven,” said Father Brad Zamora, director of liturgy for Holy Name Cathedral. “We talk about heaven as this eternal banquet. Well, if it’s a banquet then you’re going to have decorations, you’re going to have flowers on the table, and so you want people to come in and be taken somewhere else.”

In the case of Archbishop Cupich’s installation, which had three days of services around it, the cathedral’s art and environment committee, which Zamora oversees, began meeting in October to plan.

“We started as treating this as big as Christmas and Easter,” said Donna Ciszewski, who chairs the cathedral arts and environment committee.

And they did their research. “We had the advantage of having the reporting of Cardinal George’s installation so we started with that,” she said.

They also looked at other cathedrals and footage of other installations to get ideas on what types of flowers and greenery to provide, along with staging.

“The focus obviously I think is the cathedral and so we wanted to make sure that that area of the sanctuary is highlighted. We’ll have floral sprays along the back wall and above the cathedra,” committee member Darren Milanowicz told the Catholic New World the day before the services began.

Flowers were also hung over the entrance to the cathedral “to show the community of the celebration,” he said.

The committee decided early on to use fresh flowers in the decorations.

“To me that’s elegance,” said Ciszewski. “We also felt that we should go with a floral design store to help put this together.”

Volunteers began altering the cathedral’s environment following the 8 a.m. Mass on Nov. 17. The rite of reception was held in the cathedral that evening.

The committee was also responsible for providing flowers and greenery for the receptions held after each service in the cathedral courtyard and inside St. Francis Xavier Ward School.

Zamora said he was most excited about the floating sprays hung on the pillars of the cathedral.

“At Cardinal George’s [installation] they had them on stands that you would see at a wedding,” said Zamora. “But then we talked about putting them up on these pillars and having them float there.”