With song, pageantry and religious ceremony, Utah's Catholic community and many of its friends Sunday afternoon celebrated the centennial of the Diocese of Salt Lake City.
"We celebrate not our own achievements, but God's work in our midst," the Most Rev. William K. Weigand said in a message to the people of the diocese. "We celebrate not dead history, but a living apostolic faith, which we have received and which has made us what we are."An estimated 7,000 people attended the centennial ceremony and Mass at the University of Utah Jon M. Huntsman Center. Among them were Catholic bishops from throughout the West, visiting clergy and local religious leaders of many faiths, and state and local dignitaries.
Bishop Weigand was the principal celebrant of the Mass along with 12 concelebrating bishops. The Most Rev. John R. Quinn, archbishop of San Francisco, delivered the sermon. Also honored at the event was the Most Rev. Joseph Lennox Federal, sixth bishop of the Salt Lake Diocese, retired, who this week celebrated the 40th anniversary of his episcopal ordination.
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement commending Bishop Weigand, his clerical associates and the general membership of the Roman Catholic Church throughout Utah for their spiritual influence in the state.
"That influence is reflected in the significant contributions they have made in the areas of education, culture, health care and social services. We wish them well as they embark on their second century in Utah," said the statement from President Ezra Taft Benson, world leader of the LDS Church, and his counselors, President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson. President Monson and his wife attended Sunday's celebration.
The ceremony began with hymns sung by the Diocesan Children's Choir, Madeleine Choir School and the Tongan, Vietnamese and Hispanic choirs. Also, representatives of the American Indian community per-formed a solemn "Blessing of the Four Winds."
A procession followed, featuring cultural and ethnic members of the church and rep-resentatives from a number of Catholic service organizations and religious orders.
The Salt Lake Catholic Diocese was established by Pope Leo XIII on Jan. 27, 1891. It covered all of Utah and eastern Nevada - 150,000 square miles - making it geographically the largest in the United States. The Most Rev. Lawrence Scanlan was its first bishop.
However, the Catholic presence in Utah predated the diocese by 115 years, beginning with the missions of Fathers Dominguez and Escalante in 1776. In the early 1800s, Catholic trappers and traders left their marks (and in some cases their names) on the state, and the number of Catholics grew with the mining and railroad booms of the mid-1800s.
The Cathedral of the Madeleine Parish was established in 1866. Parish banners hanging from the Huntsman Center ceiling told some of the story of the subsequent spread of the church:
"1875, St. Joseph's, Ogden" "St. Mary of the Assumption, A Community in Faith Since 1881, Park City" "Faith and Service Since 1890 - Immaculate Conception, Copperton" "Our Lady of Lourdes, Magna - Family in Faith Since 1916" "Keeping the Faith at St. James in Vernal Since 1922" "St. Therese, Midvale - Showering Roses Since 1925" "St. Thomas Aquinas, Logan, 1941-1991" "Sowing Faith in Christ Since 1958 - St. George" "St. John the Baptist Mission in Draper - 10 Years of Service to God: Caring for Others"
Today, the diocese consists of 62 parishes and missions serving 66,000 Catholics.
Bishop Weigand wrote, "Our Utah ancestors in the faith were truly a pilgrim people. So much was provisional and tentative in the early years. Their faith was lived out in difficult circumstances. The bare necessities of Catholic existence were often in jeopardy.
"Yet, our parishes and missions, our hospitals and schools, Newman centers, religious education pro-grams, our Catholic newspaper and Catholic Community Services, native vocations and numerous converts bear testimony to the miles they journeyed and the hardships they welcomed so as to build up the Catholic Church in Utah."
In his letter to the diocese, Bishop Federal said, "We pray that those people 100 years from now will be able to look back with as much pride on the second century of the diocese as we do today on its first."