It’s not often that the Irish band U2 and its front man, Bono, appear in the same sentence with the Viatorians, but today, they do.
Bono was spotted Sunday in front of Guardian Angel Cathedral, and as his band’s Facebook page captioned his visit: “Giving thanks for two opening shows . . . Guardian Angel Cathedral.”
Sure enough, U2 played two concerts at the Sphere, the long awaited, $2.3 billion entertainment venue located off the Vegas Strip. Each concert drew 18,000 fans and treated them to immersive, state-of-the-art visuals and crystal clear audio. The weekend’s concerts were the first of the band’s 25-show residency at the new venue.
However, Bono’s visit to the nearby Cathedral was timely. Guardian Angel Cathedral opened 60 years ago today and it was led by Viatorian pastors until 2011.
The cathedral was built after a tradition that started in 1958, when Fr. Richard Crowley, CSV, — then pastor of St. Viator Catholic Community — was asked to say a 4:30 a.m. weekend Mass. The liturgy was suggested so that the cooks, bartenders, waiters, musicians and others working in the casinos could attend after their late night shift ended.
These early morning Masses were held in the showroom of the Royal Hotel and Casino, but after a few years the decision was made to build a chapel on the strip to serve casino workers and tourists. Fr. Patrick Toomey, CSV, who took over as pastor of nearby St. Viator in 1961 was charged with building a new church and school — and the new chapel on the strip.
Several community leaders helped with obtaining the donation of the land on the strip and with drawing financial support from hotel owners. Within two years, St. Viator’s Guardian Angel Shrine became a reality on Oct. 2, 1963.
Successive pastors included Fr. Frank White, CSV, who contracted Hungarian sisters Edith and Isabel Piczek to create the chapel’s stained glass, mosaics and the sanctuary mural; followed by Fr. Edward Anderson, CSV, Fr. Eugene Mierzwinski, CSV, Fr. Patrick Cahill, CSV, Fr. James Crilly, CSV, and Fr. Lawrence Lentz, CSV.
Ultimately, in 2011, the administration of Guardian Angel Cathedral was transferred from the Viatorians to the Diocese of Las Vegas. The cathedral now serves more than 760,000 faithful Catholics and hundreds of thousands of tourists, as the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Las Vegas.