The first time I stepped foot into St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay was for a Rite of Election Mass celebrated in early spring 1986 by Cardinal Adam Maida, then bishop of Green Bay.
I had been assigned as a Compass correspondent to cover the Mass. I remember standing — shoeless — on one of the pews to get a good photo of the happy group of people who were in the process of preparing to enter the church at the Easter Vigil. The Master of Ceremonies — Msgr. John Schuh — was terrified that I would fall and injure myself.
I didn’t. But not for lack of trying, as I was both trying to do my job and to take in all the sites of the 1881, twin-towered building made of red brick — as well as stay upright on the pew bench.
Since then, I have been in the cathedral countless times. I have learned so much about it — from the names of the five bells in those 1903 bell towers, to the name of the choir’s rose window; viewed the smaller choir of angels windows in the transept and to the grave of the second bishop of Green Bay — Francis Xavier Krautbauer, designer of the cathedral. (He’s buried in the church as well.)
As a member of the diocesan staff for many years, I feel the cathedral is sort of like my office church. I’m always learning something new about it, or from the diocesan museum it now houses.
So, when the commemorative rosary for the cathedral was launched this year, I knew I had to have one. Since I have many rosaries — and have even written a book about them (“Linking Your Beads” by Our Sunday Visitor Press) — it was natural for me to purchase this rosary as well.
(In case you’re wondering, I chose the burgundy-colored one.) Both rosaries contain Bohemian glass beads and I do have Bohemian genes in my family background. However, I also have a fondness for Bohemian glass, especially the red and gold goblets made from it about 100 years ago, some of which can be seen in Neenah’s Bergstrom Mahler Museum, where I spent many hours as a child.
This rosary “works” for me on so many levels: prayer aid, artwork, piece of local history, collectible. Now all I have to do it get it blessed. (And stay off the pews when the remodeled cathedral opens again in December.)