BY JIM SCHROEDER
Holy Trinity Church, Evansville
Editor’s note: Holy Trinity Parish was established in 1849. From 1965 to 1999, it served the diocese as the Pro-Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity. In April 2015, Holy Trinity Parish merged with Sts. Mary and John Parish. Holy Trinity Church was designated an Oratory. In January 2017, Holy Trinity Church was relegated to profane but not sordid use (secularized).
It was a cold, rainy, Irish morning in March 2013 as we scuttled into church just as Mass began. A few blocks away, a misty haze shrouded the large, slow-moving body of the Ohio River as it sluggishly ebbed its way westward. Just a few days prior, Pope Francis had stood on a balcony in Vatican City waving at the throngs of people assembled under the wispy white smoke that had dissipated into the Roman air. Of humble beginnings, Jorge Mario Bergoglio had not only become the first South American and Jesuit to find his way to the papacy, but he had also chosen a new name. It was that of the simple man of Assisi, who more than 800 years before had begged among the poor at St. Peter’s Basilica. Now his first namesake would join the lineage of Peter.
Today was a day of many different colors despite the outward grays. As I approached the pew filled with my family and my marital parents, I was struck by the contrasting hues. The crucifix, the statues, and many other items of faith were covered in purple in celebration of the Fifth Sunday in Lent. In the congregation, there was a smattering of various shades of green honoring the greatest saint the Irish have ever known. Later at lunch, we would celebrate the occasion surrounded by the aroma of Reubens, shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage — all topped off with a hint of Irish coffee.
But for now, the occasion was solemn as Lent continued. Holy Trinity had seen its share of changes over its 163-year history. At the time the oldest continuous parish in the diocese, it had first served as the home for German immigrants in the area. Later it would become the protoCathedral for 34 years. Although many youths had graduated from its halls, it had long since been without a school on its grounds. But it retained its solemn, traditional pose; and each Sunday families from the area came for the afternoon Latin Mass. It was a sanctuary for those who longed for the traditions of the Universal Church.
Deacon Charlie Koressel spoke of the challenges we face in our lives. In our interest in maintaining the truth, he reiterated the message of the Gospel — that we must condemn the sin, but not the sinner. Just like the adulteress, we are all of sin; and so we must all turn inward to God, not in hopelessness, but in joy, that only through Him will we be redeemed. As St. Paul said to the Philippians in the day’s second reading,
Brothers and sisters, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession.
Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead,
I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.
Noah began to squirm, and quickly I took him in my arms only to hear him request the need for a bathroom stop. As I walked up the ramp in the back of church, I passed a number of old pictures and vestments hanging on the wall. To my right appeared old stations likely removed from the previous church. I saw the tall, imposing spire of a building no more. Couched in this small hallway lay many memories of days and lives passed.
Noah and I returned to the pew. I noticed a shamrock embedded in the stained glass window to my right. The rain kept battering the roof. Easter was almost here.
This reflection is from Jim Schroeder’s book “The Evansville Diocese Historical Tour: Footprints of Our Catholic Brethren.” Jim, his wife, Amy, and their 7 kids live in Evansville. They are parishioners at Holy Redeemer Parish. Jim is a pediatric psychologist and Vice President of the psychology department at Easterseals Rehabilitation Center. The full story, including illustrations, is available on Amazon or with his other books and articles at www.james-schroeder.com.