U.S. Catholics’ affection for Paris cathedral

Msgr. Patrick Chauvet, center, rector of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, receives a check from Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, and Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory after a special Mass in in the basilica’s Crypt Church in Washington Sept. 16, 2021. The funds are for restoration efforts of the historic cathedral in France. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

By: Richard Szczepanowski

Date: September 17, 2021

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington has collected and donated nearly half a million dollars to assist the restoration and rebuilding efforts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was extensively damaged in a fire two years ago.

The donation was made Sept. 16 during a Mass celebrated by Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory in the national shrine’s Crypt Church.

He called the gift to “our sisters and brothers in France” for the cathedral’s repair “an expression of our deep affection and support as they continue the restoration of Notre Dame de Paris.”

“Our local response (to the blaze) in the United States of America was to join millions of people in pledging to help to restore this world treasure,” Cardinal Gregory said.

Cardinal Gregory, who as archbishop of Washington is chairman of the national shrine’s board of trustees, was the principal celebrant of the Mass.

Concelebrants included Msgr. Patrick Chauvet, archpriest and rector of the Paris cathedral; Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the national shrine in Washington; and Msgr. Vito Buonanno, the shrine’s director of pilgrimages.

Noting the Notre Dame Cathedral “has welcomed countless millions of people for centuries — some have actually been saints while others were great sinners,” Cardinal Gregory said, “May our gift assist the people of Paris in restoring a place of prayer and beauty for those who visit that world famous shrine in the centuries that will follow.”

The Mass was televised on EWTN, Catholic TV and Salt+Light TV, and livestreamed over various internet platforms.

Among those who were in attendance were Phillip Etienne, France’s ambassador to the United States; Michael Picaud, president of the Friends of Notre Dame de Paris, the organization raising funds for the cathedral’s restoration; and parishioners from St. Louis of France Parish, the French-speaking parish in the Archdiocese of Washington.

During the Mass, prayers were offered for the benefactors and donors to the cathedral restoration effort. At the end of the Mass, Msgr. Rossi and Cardinal Gregory presented a $465,000 check to Msgr. Chauvet. The money, Msgr. Rossi said, was raised “thanks to the great generosity of people throughout the United States and beyond.”

“On Monday of Holy Week 2019, fire ravaged Notre Dame and caused significant damage to this venerable cathedral,” Msgr. Rossi explained prior to presenting the check. “That very day the national shrine began a campaign to help restore the cathedral, which was then supported by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and dioceses throughout the United States.”

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