Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth focused on security during Holy Week services

Image 1 of 2

With Easter weekend approaching, the focus at St. Patrick Cathedral in downtown Fort Worth is on Holy Week services, and also security.

“In this day and time, you just have to be prepared. It's one of the realities of life,” said Pat Svacina, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.

The Diocese of Fort Worth is more than a year into implementing a heightened safety plan to thwart potential acts of violence.

"All of our folks in all of our parishes are going to be vigilant,” Svacina added. “Our ushers, they're at the front door watching everyone come in. They're welcoming, but at the same time, they're attentive to anybody that may be suspicious."

The vigilance follows Wednesday's arrest of a suspect accused of trying to torch St. Patrick Cathedral in New York City. Police say Mark Lamparello tried to enter the cathedral with cans of gasoline, lighter fluid, and lighters.

Just days earlier, flames destroyed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris -- a fire that investigators believe was accidental.

With both incident happening during Holy Week, parishioners in Fort Worth are pleased to know security in their diocese is a top concern.

"I believe it’s very, very necessary, especially in light of what's going on today," parishioner Alison Blass said.

"I'm sure they want to make sure of the security and safety of the church and people,” parishioner Marie Cabral said. “That's their first priority."

Another layer of security the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth is working on is altogether new within the Catholic Church. Similar to federal air marshals, plain-clothed security will be blending in with worshippers.

"We'll have parishioners who are well trained who have concealed weapons licenses who have gone through rigorous training through Sabbath Shield and they'll be among the congregation,” Svacina said. “We won't know who they are, but they'll be prepared to react in case something happens.”

The bells at Cathedral Guadalupe in Downtown Dallas also rang on Holy Thursday in solidarity with Notre Dame.

The woman behind the bells, Carol Anne Taylor, says bells at churches across the country were doing the same to honor this week’s loss.

“I played a few more pieces that I felt conveyed watching Notre Dame when it was burning,” she said. “The emotion I felt having been there and been to Mass and what it means to me as an organist.”

Taylor played Ave Maria and the French national anthem on the cathedral bells to send a message of support and comfort.

“We hurt with you. We are with you,” she said. “Yes, we all together can rebuild Notre Dame, and it can be a beautiful gem again.”

Diocese of Dallas Bishop Edward Burns says the New York City incident emphasizes the need to be watchful.

“It does serve as a reminder,” Burns said. “We have to be attentive and alert and really recognize our surroundings.”

Easter services this weekend are planned to go on as scheduled with no changes as of yet.