St. Cecilia Cathedral Parish and School is living its Vision: Inspiring.Faith.Community. The 200-foot tall towers of historic St. Cecilia Cathedral are a Midtown Landmark. Since 1907, we have been the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Omaha. Our award-winning elementary school, known for diversity and academic rigor, is the oldest continuously operating Catholic school in Omaha. Our parish community reaches out to those in need and hosts Archdiocesan and world-class community and arts events.
But first, here's more information about St. Cecilia Parish and School than you ever thought you'd need!
Pioneer Parish: Saint Cecilia parish, founded in 1888, had an early life as a simple 'rural' church near 40th & Hamilton Street. It was not yet the Cathedral. For it first fifteen years, church services were offered only once a month. It was a truly a pioneer endeavor.
A New Designation: The parish received the title of "Cathedral" after being moved onto the property near 40th and Burt Streets. At the cornerstone ceremony in 1907, 30,000 people attended. Many people wondered why the new Cathedral was being built "way out west" on 40th Street, when the "city" of Omaha was mostly east, between the Missouri River and 10th Street. However, there was steady growth along the crest of the 40th Street hill, high above the downtown area, on one of the highest hills in Douglas County.
Early Diversity Forms Cathedral Character: By the nineteen-tens, with a diverse mixture of the city's prominent citizens in Gold Coast mansions, and working-class citizens filling smaller homes and scores of area apartment buildings, the Cathedral and the parish grew. The neighborhood was named "West Farnam-Cathedral." The following years would show tremendous development and Saint Cecilia Cathedral would become the primary Landmark of what is now known as Midtown.
City, Cathedral, and Parish Building: The actual construction of the new Cathedral church took nearly fifty-three years. Saint Cecilia parish grew along with the construction of the Cathedral, and was the largest Catholic parish in the Diocese of Omaha at the time of World War II. By 1959, the familiar towers were finally completed, massive bells installed, and the Cathedral was consecrated.
Schools Fulfill the Needs of the Community: Saint Cecilia Cathedral Grade School, opened by the Sinsinawa (Wisconsin) Dominican teaching Sisters in 1907, and supported by the parish both then and now, attracted Catholic families from around the County. In 1919, Cathedral High School first offered classes.
Award Winning and Open to All: Our school enrollment is not limited to Catholic families, but any family that is interested in a faith-based education with rigorous academic endeavor. Our award-winning grade school has twice been recognized as a Blue Ribbon School, receiving exemplary school awards from the United States Department of Education in both 1985 and in 2007. We have also been recognized by Creighton University for our commitment to education in Omaha. Cathedral High School developed into a center of recognized academic and athletic excellence over the decades. CHS Alumni have become citizens and leaders in many professions and endeavors, secular and religious, local and national.
Host of World-Class Events: Over the years the Cathedral has been the site of many headline Catholic gatherings and events: 30,000 attended the laying of the Cathedral cornerstone in 1907; the installation and funerals of bishops; Confirmations and Ordinations, marriages and sacramental life; funerals of parishioners; services in time of war and community need; and numerous school reunions.
Our Missions: The Catholic Mass and other Sacraments are the most important reasons we are here, as the model representative of Christ's church in action, led in Omaha by the Archbishop. The Cathedral parish has been the anchor of the community, active in social justice concerns: serving those in need; maintaining the neighborhood during suburban exodus; providing a gathering place for city-wide prayer vigils; ecumenical sharing and neighborhood associations; these are all part of the work we do as Saint Cecilia Cathedral parish.
Consecration: The completion of the Cathedral bell towers in 1959 brought new acclaim to an already recognized landmark on the Omaha skyline. Interior decoration of the church in the 1950's brought more accolades, not simply for the beauty of this place, but also for the spirit of the parish community which built it. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Restoration: At the end of the twentieth century, a restoration of the Cathedral raised appreciation for the beauty of the church to new heights. This effort finished the interior adornments the way architect Thomas Rogers Kimball had originally designed. The installation of a new dual-temperament organ served to underscore the Cathedral's unique acoustical aspect, and put the Cathedral on the map as a premier location for music education and concerts. Saint Cecilia Cathedral has proven to be the perfect sacred space for vocal and musical performances.
Cathedral Culture: Were it not for Saint Cecilia Cathedral, there would be fewer cultural events in our city. The doors of the Cathedral are open to the annual Flower Festival in late January, as well as Christmas and seasonal concerts, and artistic and musical exhibits, all are offered free to the public by the parish community and Cathedral Arts Project.
You've Seen It; Have You Visited? Despite its local fame and national regard, there are still many who have yet to visit this sacred space, this monument to God built by people of faith that helps define the character and landscape of Omaha. Saint Cecilia Cathedral Parish and School will continue to welcome visitors and impact our community for many years to come. Look to the West as your flight lands at the Omaha airport; the Cathedral towers beckon to all visitors, and we welcome them.
We Need You: We rely on donations to keep our beautiful 111 year-old Cathedral maintained, and to keep our award-winning elementary school tuition affordable. We want to help every child who desires to attend to do so. We need to fund our many outreach ministries, a significant part of our Midtown Omaha presence. Please help us fulfill our mission as Disciples of Christ to serve our neighbors, our community, and our Archdiocese.
We Respect Your Gift: We truly appreciate your gift, and we will be good stewards of it. No one can stretch a dollar like we can, and there is no place like Saint Cecilia Cathedral! Our great bronze doors are open to you daily from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm; the historic, beautiful Saint Cecilia Cathedral belongs to everyone!
"A beautiful parish and wonderful place to go to school."
"I joined Cathedral, not just because the building is beautiful, but because there is a sense of the beauty of God, and the church and the people who are here. There is a true sense of service here, not just to our parishioners, but to our community. I am overwhelmed by the sense of pride I feel about this place, and I am awe-struck with the incredible beauty and grandeur of the Cathedral. It is humbling to be part of this place."
"The education for our students is unmatched here.They receive an outstanding faith-based education at an award winning school, with a discount of half-price because Saint Cecilia Parish pays the rest. It's amazing!'
"Being a part of the history of this place is phenomenal. Midtown really did grow up around Cathedral. All one has to do is look up at the towers. The inspiration is easy to see."
"Our children were so well-prepared for high school. The teachers in the local high schools always say that it was easy to spot the graduates of Saint Cecilia Grade School because they are ready for the academic challenge of high school. We invested in their education at Saint Cecilia, and our return was knowing that they was prepared for higher education."
"The newer families here at Saint Cecilia Cathedral Parish and School and the families that have been here for generations make up a beautiful diversity. Saint Cecilia Cathedral is the face of Omaha."