Mass to Commemorate & Pay Tribute to the Late Cardinal Clancy, Seventh Archbishop of Sydney

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
31 Jul 2015

Cardinal Clancy's personal intervention with Pope John Paul II was a significant step in beatification of Mary Mackillop

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP will celebrate a Mass at St Mary's Cathedral on Monday, 3 August to mark the first anniversary of the death of Cardinal Edward Bede Clancy, Seventh Archbishop of Sydney.

Cardinal Clancy died on 5 August, 2014. He was 90 years old. All are welcome to the Mass.

The Memorial Mass will be held at 5.30 pm in the Cathedral and afterwards further prayers will be held in the Crypt where Cardinal Clancy was interred at a private Mass held a two days after his funeral and Mass of Christian Burial at the Cathedral celebrated by the (then) Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

St Mary's Cathedral Crypt is the final resting place of the Archdiocese's most distinguished Catholic leaders, pioneer clerics and Archbishops. This is where Irish and pioneer priest John Joseph Therry, Bishop Charles Davis and Father Daniel Power and the Sydney Archbishops Polding, Vaughan, Moran, Kelly, Gilroy, Freeman and now Cardinal Clancy have been laid to rest.

The slabs above the graves are masterpieces of some of the finest examples of terrazzo mosaics worldwide. They are the work of the Melocco family whose Italian-born patriarch, Peter Melocco  designed and created the Crypt's spectacular terrazzo inlay floor which is designed around the Celtic Cross and tells the story of Creation. It is acclaimed internationally as one of the great terrazzo masterworks.

Peter Melocco who with his son John Melocco worked on the terrazzo floor in the Crypt, from the time construction of the Crypt in 1945 until its completion in 1958.

Plans for the new tomb

Although Peter Melocco also created the State Library of NSW's famous mosaic of the Tasman Map and the altar floor for the Chapel of the Irish Saints in the eastern wing of St Mary's Cathedral, the floor of the Crypt is regarded as his life's work and legacy.

After his death in 1961, his son John continued the family tradition as one of Australia's master terrazzo artisans and artists. With his death in March 2009, Peter Melocco who is named after his grandfather, became the third generation member of his family to continue the exquisite artistry of terrazzo. He not only helped his father create the superb inlay mosaic on the tomb of the Archdiocese's sixth Archbishop, Cardinal Freeman but is now at work on an equally intricate and beautiful mosaic design for the tomb of the late Cardinal Clancy.

But before any work could begin, the Archdiocese embarked on a hunt for the original yellowish soft marble that had been used for the floor of the Crypt as well as the slabs.

"The quarry near the Wombeyan Caves where this particular stone came from was shut down in 1998," explains Gary Watman, Facilities Manager for the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Cardinal Freeman's mosaic and marble tomb in the Crypt was created by Peter Melocco whose grandfather created the floor of the Crypt

But with remarkable foresight, it turned out the Melocco family, who had sold the family company Melocco Stone, some years ago, had saved a number of large blocks of the marble the Archdiocese was looking for.

"With the help of Peter Melocco, the Archdiocese now has a number of these blocks which should hopefully give us enough for future use over the next several decades," Gary says.

In addition there will be enough of the now extremely rare marble from the old quarry at Wombeyan not only for any repairs needed to the floor or slabs but for any extra stone panels that may be needed.

Although the slab for Cardinal Clancy's tomb is not yet ready, for the Mass on Monday a temporary cover etched with a temporary design will be used.

Remembered as a prayerful and dedicated man with a total commitment to his faith and a great gift for friendship, Cardinal Clancy served as Archbishop of Sydney from 1983 until 2001. During this time he oversaw the creation of the Diocese of Parramatta and the Diocese of Broken Bay as well as the completion of the spires of St Mary's Cathedral which had been part of the architect William Wardell's original design for the Cathedral.

Cardinal Clancy also oversaw the construction of the new Cathedral House and St Mary's Cathedral College High School as well as the closure of St Patrick's Seminary at Manly and the establishment of the Seminary of the Good Shepherd at Homebush in 1996.  In addition, Cardinal Clancy founded the Catholic Institute of Sydney, the Veech Library at Strathfield and was not only the founding Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University in 1991 but instrumental in its formation.

There was a search for the yellow marble to match the floor and other tombs in the Crypt

Much loved by all who knew him and whose lives he not only touched but inspired, Cardinal Clancy played a significant and important role in the Beatification of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop by John Paul II in 1995, and during his tenure as President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) launched the Bishops' Research Project on the Participation of Women in the Catholic Church of Australia.

Guided by Cardinal Clancy, the Research Project focussed on what was helping encourage the participation of women in the Church, what was hindering this and what the Church could do, 4,500 questionaires were sent to 28 dioceses across Australia. In addition 32 public hearings on the issue were held and more than 2500 submissions received.

All are welcome at the memorial Mass to be celebrated by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP at 5.30 pm at St Mary's Cathedral on Monday, 3 August.