Mark Kenney, the former custodian of St. Cecilia Cathedral.
Another one from the you can't make this up file. In Omaha, Nebraska at the St. Cecilia Cathedral from January 29th to the 31st was the 31st Annual Cathedral Flower Festival. As if having a flower festival in a cathedral wasn't bad enough it also had a secular theme, “A Night at the Movies”. Suffice to say these movies such as “Grease” are immoral. Here's what the rector of St. Cecilia, Fr. Michael Gutgsell, wrote in his Pastor's Column;
January 29, 30 and 31 this year will mark the 29th Flower Festival weekend. The theme of this year’s festival is “A Night at the Movies”. Movie themes and stars from the Golden Age of motion pictures will be captured and celebrated in dazzling floral arrangements. More than thirty artists, plus the Cathedral Flower Guild, will ply their creative imaginations in these exhibits.
During the exhibit hours on Saturday and Sunday there will be instrumental and vocal presentations by local groups and stylists. The Cultural Center will feature a complementary art exhibit and the Parish Center will have musical presentations and the goodies of Wheatfields.
For $75, one can attend a private viewing of the festival exhibits Jan. 29 from 7-9 p.m., and a party from 7:30-10 p.m. at the cultural center. Camille Metoyer Moten and Jim Boggess will perform songs from the movies in the Cinema Cabaret. Call 402-827-3847 by Jan. 18 to register.
Now that the stage has been set, Mark Kenney the then custodian of St. Cecilia Cathedral enters the story. As written by Michael kelly of Omaha.com in his article, With a pair of bolt cutters and sense of indignation, custodian cuts down what flies in church:
On the first morning of the 31st annual Cathedral Flower Festival, with its theme of “A Night at the Movies,” an agitated church custodian made a bold move.
Mark Kenney, 59, who grew up in the parish, had worked at St. Cecilia Cathedral for three years. Around 8 a.m. on Jan. 29, he went to a work shed, picked up a pair of heavy-duty bolt cutters and ascended to a catwalk high above the mostly empty nave, or main sanctuary.
He looked through a peephole, he said, to make sure he wouldn’t hurt any people. And then he cut a steel cable, which sent a suspended, umbrella-carrying, hat-wearing Mary Poppins figure crashing to the floor.
Kenney then went downstairs and removed a cardboard Buddha figure from the Nash Chapel, which also featured costumed mannequins from “The King and I.” He threw the Buddha out one door and proceeded to toss costumed mannequins out two other doors.
Gutgsell had known that his custodian had misgivings about secular displays in the church but says he was dumbfounded and didn’t understand why Kenney would take such drastic action. In a brief meeting that week, the pastor said, he had asked for Kenney’s promise not to be disruptive.
Now the priest was shocked, saying, “You promised!”
In response, Kenney said, he lashed out. “I started screaming, ‘Father, this is bullshit! We can’t have this in the church. This isn’t culture, it’s Disney crap!’ ”
Kenney — who has served three terms of up to six months in federal prisons for crossing security lines at military bases in protest of nuclear weapons — then knelt at the communion rail and prayed until officers arrived and handcuffed him.
He spent a night in jail before he was bailed out and pleaded no contest. He said he is scheduled for sentencing “on Holy Thursday,” March 24.
Damaging items at the flower festival was wrong, and Kenney said in an interview this week that he will make restitution. But he says secular items such as movie characters are inappropriate in the sacred space of the cathedral and amount to sacrilege and idolatry.
Idolatry entry, Concise Catholic Dictionary (1943)
Gutgsell, a former chancellor of the Omaha Archdiocese and a Catholic University-licensed “canon lawyer,” an expert in church laws and rules, disagrees.
“Obviously, context is everything,” the priest said, noting that the cathedral also is home to about six concerts a year. No sacrilege or disrespect is conveyed, he said, in the concerts or the dozens of exhibits at the flower festival.
“Cathedrals,” he said, “are kind of the epicenter for culture presentation and development.”
Eileen Burke-Sullivan, a theologian and vice provost for mission and ministry at Creighton University, said she sees no problem. The cathedral and the archdiocese, she said, have supported the arts in Omaha for many years.
“In mixing thematic popular culture with the beauty of God’s creation in flowers,” she said, “I don’t think there’s any inherent idolatry.”
Sacrilege entry, Concise Catholic Dictionary (1943)
Are these people who work in the archdiocese insane?
No sacrilege or disrespect?
A buddha in the house of God?
The amoral ex-chancellor of the archdiocese of Omaha, Fr. Michael Gutgsell, who desecrated the cathedral with a sacrilegious display but had Mark Kenney arrested.
Michael Kelly then continues in his article,
In a letter of termination two days after the festival incident, Gutgsell wrote to Kenney: “None of the florists and none of the volunteers, any number of whom took time off their work or traveled some distance, had the slightest intention or reason to dishonor the Cathedral. You assigned the word ‘desecration’ to the entire project and as a result slandered anyone associated with it.”
Desecration entry, Concise Catholic Dictionary (1943)
The complete list of films were as follows: Mary Poppins, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Doctor Zhivago, The King and I, Beauty and the Beast, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Hairspray, Gone with the Wind, Shoes of the Fisherman, The Nission, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Man of La Mancha, El Cid, Harvey Girls, Lawrence of Arabia, E.T. the Extra-Terrestial, Lilies of the Field, Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, Virgin Queen, Hello Dolly!, Grease, Amadeus, and lastly, Ben-Hur.
To view the complete set of photos from 2016 and past years click here.
Some photos of the movies on display at the
31st Annual Cathedral Flower Festival
Lawrence of Arabia
Virgin Queen (yes that's Queen Elizabeth I)
Wizard of Oz
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Beauty and the Beast
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The King and I
The King and I