By Tom Miller
Special to The Message
Through the years, St. Benedict Cathedral has been a pillar of strong Catholic faith, hope, charity and love. In addition, through its primary mission of St. Benedict Cathedral School, thousands of young people have been provided a first-class education that emphasizes Catholic values and a commitment to service in their community. The parishioners and students are taught that they can become a driving force for good and justice in their city, and become messengers of God.
The Benedictine communities of St. Meinrad Archabbey in St Meinrad and Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand have served our congregation since our parish’s inception in 1912. Their motto "Ora et Labora" (Pray and work) is firmly engrained in the spiritual fabric of St. Benedict Cathedral. The Benedictine priests and sisters are examples of selfless love to our parishioners and students. They have made countless sacrifices to serve, teach and minister to our Cathedral populace. In the eyes of many, these religious individuals are simply "saints" in the midst of our vibrant community.
In recent years, the installation of the Permanent Diaconate has been a true blessing for our congregation. Our Deacons have had a dramatic effect on our parishioners and have become an integral part of our mission as a church. Their energy and friendly smiles are a constant reminder of God's love, They have been instrumental in performing numerous ministries at St Ben's, and visiting our ill and infirm parishioners.
The lay ministers in the cathedral have proven themselves to be necessary ingredients in the day-to-day operations of our community. The ministries are too numerous to delineate, but they have had a powerful influence on our parishioners and students. Without our voluntary lay ministers, the smooth operation of the cathedral would be seriously impacted.
St. Benedict Cathedral School is one of the premier educational institutions in Evansville. The Benedictine nuns are largely responsible for this excellent reputation. In recent history, our lay teachers, through their expertise and devotion to the students, have continued to add to this spiritual and academic excellence. Time and time again, past students at St. Benedict School attribute their success in life due to the strong academic regimen at St. Ben's School. Our lay teachers have provided a strong moral and academic foundation for our students to excel in life.
As is evidenced above, the thriving community of St. Benedict Cathedral and School exists because of the efforts of many religious and lay individuals. Since the establishment of St. Benedict Cathedral in 1999, three individuals have had a powerful influence on our community. The late Benedictine Father Gregory Chamberlin was the pastor in 1999 when the cathedral was officially dedicated by Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger.
Our cathedral had a beautiful Mass and celebration the day of the dedication. There was no doubt the parishioners were energized by being named the stewards of the new cathedral, Father Gregory was pastor of our church and cathedral from 1991 until 2013, when he retired due to health issues. During his tenure, he was loved and respected by our congregation.
One of his most notable achievements was the hiring of Benedictine Sister Karlene Sensmeier as principal of St Benedict Cathedral School. Sister Karlene had previously been a teacher and principal at our school, and her return to St. Ben's was a huge boost to revitalizing our school. She was a tireless principal who orchestrated the building of St. Benedict Hall.
Here, vision and intellectual prowess put St. Benedict School at the forefront of elementary schools in Vanderburgh County. In 2013, Benedictine Very Rev. Godfrey Mullen became the new spiritual leader of St. Benedict Cathedral as its Rector. Throughout the last six years, Father Godfrey has encountered an array of challenges and handled them with grace and dignity. His sense of humor always places life's many challenges in proper perspective. During the last six years, he has undertaken many and varied projects.
The most notable is the exterior and interior renovation of St. Benedict Cathedral. This project is now completed and offers an everlasting testament to the hard work of Father Godfrey, and his love for and devotion to the parishioners of St. Benedict Cathedral.
My wife, Pat, and our four children – who attended St. Benedict School – have been truly blessed by the community of St. Benedict Cathedral and the humble and loving Benedictine priests and sisters who have now served our community for 109 years!
Tom and his family are members of St. Benedict Cathedral Parish.