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Minnesota cathedral designated as national shrine of St. Paul
Maria Wiering
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Saturday, June 27, 2009
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS)—As the June 29 close of the year of St. Paul drew near, the Cathedral of St. Paul announced its new designation as the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul.
The cathedral is among about 100 U.S. Catholic churches that have been honored with the designation, and it's the only one dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle, said Msgr. Anthony Sherman, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Divine Worship.
The designation came from the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the request of Archbishop John C. Neinstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
The title "shrine" recognizes the cathedral's national importance and designates it as a pilgrimage destination for groups from across the United States, said Father Joseph Johnson, the cathedral's rector.
Visitors from beyond the archdiocese—Catholic and non-Catholic alike—already tour the cathedral when they visit St. Paul. Parish groups from around the Midwest have organized pilgrimages to the building, Father Johnson added.
The shrine designation may result in more pilgrims, he said.
Today, the USCCB wants a national shrine to be a place that can accommodate national pilgrimages—in this case pilgrimages intended to increase devotion to the apostle Paul, Father Johnson said.
Msgr. Sherman said it was significant the shrine designation came during the year of St. Paul.
"This was a church that, even by its design and architecture, revealed the life of St. Paul and the challenges of his ministry and his preaching and proclamation," he told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
"We're hoping that...this shrine in particular might be an impetus for evangelization, that people will get the spirit of St. Paul and begin to want to try and reach out and proclaim the message of Christ," he added.
The USCCB granted the designation March 25, and it was announced June 16 by the cathedral.
The shrine designation will add another layer to the many roles the cathedral already plays in the community, Father Johnson said. It is a parish serving about 3,000 households; it is the mother church for the archdiocese; and it is a civic monument because of its impressive architecture and history.
Because the cathedral often hosts group pilgrimages, it has already played a role on the national scene, Father Johnson said. However, the designation will increase its "national spiritual significance," he added.
To be considered for a shrine designation, a parish must complete a questionnaire and provide extensive information about itself, which is confirmed through the visit of a bishop who is a member of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship.
Father Johnson said the cathedral began the application process when the pope first announced in June 2007 that the Church would observe a year of St. Paul beginning the following June. The priest said he felt the cathedral had a particular responsibility to heed the jubilee year's call to greater devotion to St. Paul.
He also thinks the national shrine designation honors the vision of the cathedral's founder, Father Lucien Galtier, the first priest to establish a parish in the area in 1840. Because of his devotion to the saint, he named the log chapel he built after St. Paul, which led to the name of the city.
"Father Galtier looked to the person of Paul when he arrived in this wilderness, and it's interesting that now the universal Church has said we're all going to do that," Father Johnson said.
The new shrine has established the Archconfraternity of the Apostle Paul to help people feel connected to the shrine, Father Johnson said.
Members serve as the spiritual apostolate of the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul in five ways: greater devotion to St. Paul and his intercession; study of and reflection on the Pauline epistles in the New Testament; the practice of corporal and spiritual works of mercy; commitment to evangelization, especially in everyday encounters; and connection with the spiritual life at the new shrine. 

Members also are asked to contribute $15 in annual dues.

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