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Cathedral Conundrum

Father Jeff answers questions raised by incident at St. Cecilia’s Cathedral

Photo by Fine Art America

Photo by Fine Art America

Tom Hermanek, Copy Editor

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The scene at St. Cecilia’s Cathedral on Friday, January 29, 2016 was not what one would expect at an otherwise peaceful worship space.

Mark Kenney, custodian of the church, ascended the catwalk and cut down a statue of Mary Poppins that was suspended from the ceiling for the annual Cathedral Flower Festival, since this year’s theme was ‘A Night at the Movies.’

Upon impact, the statue slammed against the cathedral floor, causing damages of as much as $6,000.

When Pastor Michael Gutgsell arrived, he questioned Kenney as to who had caused the damage. Kenney replied, “Father, it was me. You need to call the police.”

As police arrived, the custodian of three years knelt at the communion rail, waiting for handcuffs to be placed on his wrists.

This, however, was not Kenney’s first arrest. He had previously served three terms of a few months each for crossing security lines at various military bases, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Kenney’s motive for destroying the statue was his belief that the secular statue was inappropriate for display in church. Due to the same belief, he also threw out a cardboard depiction of the Buddha, part of a display devoted to “The King and I”, which decorated the chapel.  

Father Jeff Mollner says that while he does not approve of Kenney’s course of actions, he says it is important to ensure that the Cathedral is treated with reverence. “I don’t condone him doing that. I think there were other avenues in which he should have addressed the issue, but I can understand why he took exception to the decoration being hung like that,” said Mollner.

Mollner pointed out that the cathedral is used for concerts and other cultural events. “There’s nothing inherently wrong with having something in the cathedral that is not specifically for a liturgical function,” he said, “but it’s important to maintain the character of what the cathedral is for.”

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Tom Hermanek - Managing Editor

Tom became a member of The Flightline in January of 2015. He is a senior who is involved in mock trial and swimming. Off campus, Tom spends his time with friends or working at Starbucks. You can email him at [email protected]

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