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Pastor's Message



In 1889, Easter was one day later, April 21.


I call attention to Easter 125 years ago because a couple of years back we received a letter from a thoughtful soul in Largo, Florida.  Attached was a small, four-sided program for the liturgies at Holy Name Cathedral on Easter Sunday, 1889.   The person who sent it to us said that he had found it inside of a book he bought at an estate sale and thought we might be interested. 


1889!  The Pope was Leo XIII; the U.S. President was Grover Cleveland; and the newly-elected Governor of Illinois was the Republican Civil War veteran Joseph “Private Joe” Fifer.  In 1889 the Pemberton Medicine Company of Atlanta, Georgia, was incorporated; it later evolved into Coca-Cola.  The Columbia Phonograph Company was founded in Washington, D.C.  South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Washington would later that year become the 39th, 40th, 41st, and 42nd States in the Union.  During the year this artifact was printed, notable inventions included the lawn mower, the vacuum cleaner, the curtain rod, the paper clip, the baby buggy, the matchbook, and the golf tee.  Three weeks before Easter, the Eiffel Tower, the tallest building in the world at that time, opened in Paris.  On Palm Sunday that year future British historian Arnold Toynbee was born in London.  The following day, April 15, St. Damien de Veuster, the heroic Belgian missionary priest, died in the leper colony on the island of Moloka’i in faraway Hawaii.  That same day, the new Democrat 31st Mayor of Chicago DeWitt Clinton Cregier was inaugurated.  He served just two years.  Tuesday, April 16, silent film legend Charlie Chaplin was born in South London.  On Wednesday of Holy Week, 1889, Adolf Hitler was born in Austria-Hungary.  On April 19, 2139 – Easter 125 years from now – I wonder if the pastor of the 264-year old Holy Name Cathedral will find out what historical nuggets were tucked away in this Holy Week or in this blessed year.


One page of the program outlines the 10:30am Pontifical High Mass offered by the first Archbishop and sixth Ordinary (chief bishop) of Chicago, 59-year old Patrick Feehan, celebrating his ninth Easter in the same Cathedral where you prayed today.  The “Archdeacon” was listed as Rev. M. J. FitzSimmons, my predecessor and the third Rector of the 14-year old Holy Name Cathedral; he was 39.  Msgr. FitzSimmons would unbelievably remain in that rector’s role until 1928, 39 more Easters!  A guest preached the sermon, Rev. E. J. Gleeson, S.J., President of the Jesuit St. Louis University.  On the back page of the program, musicians are listed.  A “Solo Quartet” consisted of Mrs. A. Dony, soprano; Miss K. Coffey, contralto; Mr. P. Gleeson, tenor; and Mr. F. A. Langlois, bass.  All four apparently were regular Holy Name musicians as they also were listed two years later as the quartet performing at Archbishop Feehan’s Mass celebrating the Silver Jubilee of his episcopacy.  In addition, at the Easter Mass, there was a Chorus of 40 and an Orchestra of 34.  William Fehl was the “Concertmeister”; and J. Lewis Browne was identified as “Conductor” and “Organist of the Cathedral”.  An internet search reveals a lot about Holy Name’s 19th century main musician.  He was born in London in 1866, came to America at age 6, and studied with his organist father and other professionals.  He was hired by Holy Name Cathedral in 1889 when he was 22.  That was his age at Easter, 1889.  He remained here until moving to San Francisco from 1892-1898.  In 1899, he became organist at the new Sacred Heart Church in downtown Atlanta, where he remained until 1907.  Why did he leave Atlanta?  A New York Times article published on 11/8/1907 provides a piece of the rest of the story. “For an attempt to kill the Rev. Father John E. Gunn, Rector of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Dr. J. Lewis Browne, the organist of Sacred Heart was today lodged in jail in default of a bond of $5,000.  He is well-known in other cities.  The priest says he does not know why Browne should seek his life, but the organist seems to be possessed with the idea that he has been gravely injured by him.  He would not state definitely how he has been injured.  Last night, Browne had a quarrel with his wife and left the house.  When he returned Mrs. Browne was gone.  ‘I shall kill Father Dunn,’ said Browne, and went to the rectory, which adjoins Browne’s home.  Seeing Father Dunn at the telephone, Browne fired through the window, one bullet entering the wall within two inches of the priest’s head.  Browne then returned to his home where he was arrested.  Father Dunn was telephoning for officers when shot at.”  Well…  We can guess why Browne left Atlanta that year. Note that the NY Times copy calls the priest “Father Gunn” in the lead; later in the story he seems to be Father Dunn.  Another more qualified historian will have to uncover the remaining mystery since Mr. Browne landed freely in Philadelphia for two years at America’s premier retail store, Wannemaker’s. When the store shifted their legendary organ recitals to a higher gear, he returned to Chicago in 1912 as organist at the near West Side’s premier parishes, Our Lady of Sorrows and Old St. Pat’s.  He soon was commissioned to design the organ for the Medinah Temple on Wabash between Ontario & Ohio, four blocks from Holy Name.  The Austin Organ Company pipe organ (opus no. 558), was installed in 1915, with 92 ranks, a 5-manual fixed console and a 4-manual movable console (added in 1931). Today, plans are being made to restore that instrument in Lake County’s Old Mill Creek at the new St. Raphael the Archangel Church.  On 10/23/1933, J. Lewis Browne died in Chicago


We move to the music for Easter, 1889.  For Mass, there was an overture by Wagner – Tannhauser.  Mass Solennelle (St. Cecilia) by Charles Gounod was performed by the Soli, Chorus and Orchestra.  Veni Creator by Cerillo, arranged by Browne was performed by Mrs. Dony, the rest of the quartet and the orchestra.  At offertory, Opus 13 in D for Grand Orchestra by Browne was the choice.  A “Priest’s March” from Montezuma by Frederick Grant Gleason was listed.  Vespers at 7:30pm in the Cathedral consisted of Gregorian Dixit Dominus, Confitebor, Beatus Vir, and Laudate Pueri; Laudate Dominum by Barnby; Regina Coeli by Novello; Magnificat by Webbe; Ave Maria (female voices) by Brahms; O Salutaris (bass solo) and Tantum Ergo (quartette), both by Haydn.  Finally, the night concluded with a postlude of the Schiller March by Meyerbeer, for the organ by Best.




A lot has changed at Holy Name Cathedral in 125 years.  I plan to get that 1889 Easter program framed in glass so many can see both sides of the 5” X 6-1/4” relic when they visit the place where Chicago goes to pray. 


For now, understand the most important measure of the unchangeable.  Mass was offered at Holy Name Cathedral on April 21, 1889, Easter Sunday.  Jesus was present in the proclamation of the Gospel, the presence of the priest/bishop, the assembly of the faithful, and most especially in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  Mass is offered this Easter at Holy Name Cathedral on April 20, 2014.  Jesus is present today in the proclamation of the Gospel, the presence of the priest/bishop, the assembly of the faithful, and most especially in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.  Easter, 1889; Easter, 2014 - the same now and forever.



    Msgr. Dan Mayall