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My first visit to any church

Mark Heyne

On Thursday, I visited the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, which is in downtown Cincinnati.

Father Brian was the priest that day. He is the son of Chris Phelps of Cincinnati Public Radio, who took me to the church for noon Mass. A mother feels proud when her kid gets such opportunity in their beliefs. Chris was also happy. I was lucky enough to meet Father Brian, a tall, healthy young guy with a mustache and beard.

I learned that in 1840, Bishop John B. Purcell recognized that the cathedral on Sycamore Street no longer met the needs of a rapidly growing Catholic community. He commissioned architect Henry Walter, designer of the Ohio state capitol, to construct a new cathedral with the request that it be built in classic Greek style. So, in 1845, the cathedral was hailed as one of the most beautiful in the country. I was impressed by the architecture, with its tall pillars and gold trim.

The Mass contains holy songs, confession, Biblical reading, explanation of Bible and the distribution of bread and wine. I saw the lines of pews, with song and prayer books. It was what I had imagine it would be. After the mass, all were shaking hands (the symbol of peace).

I asked more about the happenings and was comparing with our religious practices. Chris explained to me that lighting the candle means to offer some special prayer.

People don't talk in church while Muslims also not allowed talking except about the religion and teachings.

We sit on the floor and you sit on the pew. You have holy songs but we are not allowed to play music in the worship places. In Islam, when somebody memorizes all of the verses of The Holy Book Quran. We do have the same gatherings in the mosques. We have the same charity funds in our worship places.

We have to cover our head during prayers, but I did not find that to be the case in this church.
We have separate places for ladies while here all were sitting together in the Mass. It was my first visit to any church, but I was treated with respect. I was  wearing my cultural dress as a symbol of being Muslim. This was quite encouraging to me because some people complimented me on what I was wearing.  I want to say thanks to the people of St. Peter in Chains for being so kind.

Fasiha Sharif is a journalist from Pakistan visiting and working in the WVXU newsroom on a three week assignment.  She’ll be sharing her thoughts and experiences here on the WVXU website and doing some on air reporting.