Thursday, 7 July
Initially when planning this trip, my plan was just Kansas and Nebraska. As I looked at the map of cathedrals I haven’t visited in the United States of America, the itinerary just kept expanding. Realizing that I should “dip into Oklahoma” so as to photograph the (then) 4 cathedral sites I was aware of. So when I was ready to clear the Topeka hotel, I looked at my longest planned drive for this trip. Two hundred twenty miles south to Tulsa on US75 was 4 hours with only a break for fueling the car, and getting me to the parking lot across from the Cathedral of the Holy Family at 1pm.
Midday Mass had concluded but the grand doors were open, showing glass doors into the darkened narthex. Unfortunately, these doors were locked. Walking around to the side, I learned that a women’s function was underway in the nave, and that I would need to wait over 3 hours to gain access. Disappointed, I returned to my car after getting the outside shots, and checked Google to make sure I wasn’t missing a cathedral in Tulsa. Good thing, as there is an Anglican pro-cathedral south of downtown.
Out in the suburbs, with lots of trees and rolling countryside, I arrived as the gated entrance to All Saints Anglican Pro-Cathedral. A fence ran the length of the 91st Street side, but access to the property was made by walking to the end and climbing the mild hill to the church. Circumnavigating the building, I found the locked entrance, but found decent shots of the exterior through the heavily wooded property. Back to the end of the fence, I returned to the car.
After putting in the address in Oklahoma City, Garmin asked its usual question: avoid tolls? Not reading carefully again, I said yes, so I continued south on 75 and then west on I-40, adding about another three-quarters of an hour over taking the toll road I-44. First stop in the Oklahoma capitol was the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
A red brick building with a tall square bell tower, a large parking lot faces the main entrance. Open, preparations were underway for an event that evening with the archbishop. The vault is stenciled on a Marian blue field, with the joists highlighted in gold. The view from the rear down the center aisle is stunning, with light coming from both sides with lower and clerestory windows in the nave and the main altar set in a half-dome recess of red highlights on pale green and yellow stenciling. Above, the organ pipes sit on either side of the choir loft, allowing a colorful rose window to bring in light from the west.
In an arch around the high altar is a mural depicting the important figures to the founding of the diocese and onward, as well as several saints, with the medallion of the patroness in the center. A side altar honors Blessed Stanley Rother, a locally ordained priest who was martyred in Guatemala. Outside the church, a mosaic of Our Lady of Perpetual Help aided praying when the church is closed.
Heading downtown to St Paul’s Cathedral, I arrived at 5 and this Episcopal cathedral was closed with no response to any of my attempts at the office. The red brick used primarily to face the outside are of a lighter, less intense color. Two stories, the building sit on a corner with a slightly higher square bell tower to the rear. A gate allows access to the garden and church offices. Just around the corner is the former (1905-1931) Saint Joseph’s Old Cathedral, another red brick structure with a tall central bell tower over the center entrance, flanked on wither side with shorter square towers and side doors. The church is on a corner with a slight drop, so stairs bring congregants to the doors from the sidewalk. And again, as was the day’s pattern, the old cathedral was closed to entry.
Off to check into my lodgings, and I had booked another nice place. Hawthorn Suites near the airport. With and actual kitchen setup right inside the door, the sleeping space was spacious and the bathroom quite roomy. I particularly like the shower doors: much more substantial than at home. For dinner I headed out to Billy Sims BBQ. Despite writing my day’s journal entry there, I made no further notes as to my meal, nor did I take pictures. I must have been exhausted.