Monsignor John Cuddy in September of 1997 as St. Joseph Church looked then with the original altar railing in the original position on the third step between the main pillars of the church:
If you look at the celebrant's chair, near the worker in green t-shirt, the original railing would have begun on the chair level, in the middle of the four columns behind it and run into the middle of the ambo's (pulpit) side--this truly constricted the original space of the sanctuary. The priest's chair was placed on the top step of the old high altar, prior to the 2006 renovation, thus hiding the altar and its Last Supper sculpture. The sanctuary was raised one step, the altar railing removed and the sanctuary extended into the nave:
This morning's Telegraph has a tribute to Monsignor (Father) John Cuddy, pastor of Saint Joseph Church from 1974-2004. St. Joseph School dedicated the Monsignor John Cuddy Hall (Gym and three additional classrooms) in January. Mt. de Sales Academy will dedicate soon its new middle school building named the Fr. John Cuddy Hall.
Apart from the article above, the accompanying photograph above was taken in September of 1997 shortly after Mother, now Blessed, Teresa of Calcutta had died on September 5th, 1997. In fact her liturgical feast day was yesterday! What an odd coincidence!
But I digress, the photo of Monsignor Cuddy standing in St. Joseph Church shows the original position of the altar railing (up three steps, between the main pillars of the church and constricting the space of the actual sanctuary). What is not pictured is the other side of the church where the altar railing actually goes into the middle side of the ambo (pulpit). The gates were long gone by the time of this photo.
The new railing (and the floor is completed for its installation which should be within this month, God willing!) will look as the old although a new fabrication. Also newly fabricated will be the brass/bronze gates which will look like the original. There will be two gates at the center and one gate each directly in the middle front of each side chapel.
The new railing will be on the first step leading up to the altar, rather than the third step as shown above and will be more expansive running the full width of the church outside the pillars.
From Saturday's Macon Telegraph
By ED GRISAMORE, September 6, 2014
Monsignor Cuddy's 60th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood last May, 2013:
When John Cuddy was in the second grade at St. Boniface School in New Haven, Connecticut, a little girl asked for his hand in marriage.
Although he was flattered, he politely declined the early wedding proposal.
“I am going to become a priest,” he told her.
At an age when few children understand the concept of God, he already embraced the idea of dedicating his life to serving God.
One of three sons born to Irish parents, Cuddy worked to help his family make ends meet and to put himself through college and seminary. His father was a policeman. The family did not own a car.
He was ordained at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hartford. And his spiritual path eventually led him to another St. Joseph’s Catholic Church at the top of Poplar Street in Macon, where he was appointed pastor in 1974.
Cuddy’s relationship with one of the city’s largest congregations -- as well as the students, faculty and alumni at Mount de Sales Academy and St. Joseph’s Catholic School -- has been special during the past 40 years.
In January, Bishop Gregory John Hartmayer, of the Diocese of Savannah, came to Macon to dedicate Monsignor John Cuddy Hall, the new gymnasium at St. Joseph’s elementary school.
On Sept. 19, Hartmayer will return for the official dedication of Father John Cuddy Hall, the new middle school that opened its doors this fall. There will be a Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church at 11 a.m. The dedication at the school is at 1:30 p.m. and open to the public.
Cuddy will not be able to attend, though. He turned 86 in April and is in declining health. He lives at the memory care center at the Blair House in Macon.
Among those invited to the Sept. 19 dedication is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was one of Cuddy’s students at St. John Vianney Minor Seminary on the Isle of Hope in Savannah in the mid-1960s.
Deacon Don Coates, the upper school campus minister at Mount de Sales, said the school has not received word on whether Thomas plans to attend.
The new middle school facility is 23,850 square feet and includes 11 classrooms, three science labs, a counseling center and administrative offices.
Coates said a photograph of Cuddy will be displayed in the lobby, along with his cassock, prayer books and other items.
Cuddy collected rocks and shells on his many trips to the Holy Land, where he “walked in the footsteps of Jesus.”
Toni Siebenmorgan, an art teacher at St. Joseph’s school, has arranged a collection of Cuddy’s rocks in the form of a Jerusalem cross.
While this year marked the 40th anniversary of Cuddy’s arrival in Macon, last year was the 60th anniversary of his ordination into the priesthood.
Although Cuddy has been bestowed the honorary title of “monsignor” by the pope -- a designation for priests who have rendered valuable service to the Catholic church -- Coates said Cuddy has always preferred to be addressed as “Father Cuddy.”
‘CARING AND GENUINE’
Phil McGoldrick and Joe Moran already had graduated from Mount de Sales by the time Cuddy came to Macon. But they watched his ministry prosper in the years that followed. They remembered him from their elementary school days at St. Joseph’s, when Cuddy would visit on “report card day” in his role as superintendent of schools for the diocese from 1957-68.
McGoldrick said Cuddy’s far-reaching impact was immediately recognized in the community after he began the traditional Thanksgiving interfaith service. He also started classes for those interested in learning about Catholicism, similar to what is now the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), during which candidates for conversion are introduced to Catholic beliefs and practices.
“He has always been caring and genuine,” Moran said. “Like that priest you see in the movies.”
Longtime St. Joseph’s member Connie Thuente said Cuddy came to St. Joseph’s at a time when there was some division in the church.
“He brought us together in his quiet, humble way,” she said.
She said her daughters, Macie and Tara, loved it whenever Cuddy visited the elementary school classrooms. They once saw him shopping at Kmart. He recognized their school uniforms and came over and spoke to them.
Cuddy also was a fixture on campus at Mount de Sales. He could regularly be seen in the hallways between classes, after school and during other activities. Coates said he rarely missed an athletic event.
Not only has Cuddy been known for the rock collection from his travels, he shared equal passion for Volkswagens. Thuente said although Cuddy has Irish roots, he grew up in a German neighborhood in Connecticut, which explains his devotion to VWs.
Coates said in recent years, when Cuddy has no longer been able to drive, the transportation duties have been handled by a group of volunteers who affectionately call themselves “Cuddy’s Cabbies.”
Before Cuddy was ordained in 1953, he attended St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut, then St. Mary’s in Baltimore. He studied theology at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and obtained a master’s degree in education administration.
He was one of 17 men ordained on Ascension Thursday (May 14) in 1953. He was the only one who chose not to remain in Connecticut, heading south instead to join the Diocese of Savannah. His first parish was at Holy Family Church in Columbus for four years before being called to St. Michael on Tybee Island and St. James in Savannah.
As prescribed by canon law, Cuddy had to retire in 2003 when he reached the age of 75. He submitted his retirement letter to then-Bishop J. Kevin Boland, who “held the letter” and allowed Cuddy to serve another year as pastor in celebration of the church’s 100th anniversary in 2004.
That same year, Cuddy was named chaplain at Mount de Sales, although he had “unofficially” been in that role for 30 years.