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On Tuesday, February 2, 2016, we marked the centennial of the collapse of the Cathedral's great Dome with an evening event full of music, history, and a lot of fun.  Read about the collapse of the Cathedral Dome here.  The evening opened with Joseph Adam playing Widor's "Allegro vivace" from Symphony No. 5, played by Dr. Franklin Sawyer Palmer at the Vespers of Dedication of the Cathedral back in 1907.
Here, the women of the Cathedral Choir, conducted by Dr. Paul Thornock, sing the antiphon for the dedication: "How awesome this place is! This is the house of God and the gateway to heaven!"

Our young narrator introduced the story of the Cathedral. "There wasn’t supposed to be a Cathedral in Seattle."  But Seattle was growing fast and eventually, Bishop O'Dea decided to move his see from Vancouver to Seattle. The Cathedral parish was established in 1904 and the cornerstone for the new Cathedral was laid in 1905.

The inimitable Dave Ross (shown here at the rehearsal!) embodied various characters in the Cathedral's history, including Bishop Blanchet, Msgr. Prefontaine, Bishop O'Dea, and many more.

For the second time in history, it snowed inside the Cathedral! 

From the Chronicles of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary: "Shortly after the classes were dismissed this afternoon, we were startled by what we thought was a heavy snow slide. Upon looking out we soon realized that the great dome of the Cathedral had fallen. Priests and people were on the scene in an instant, and as usual in such cases, the priests risked their lives to save the Blessed Sacrament. It was a touching sight to see them wade through the deep snow carrying our Eucharistic God to a safe abode in our little chapel. As far as is known no lives have been lost, but that cannot be ascertained until the debris has been removed. We have God and our Blessed Lady to thank for our almost miraculous protection, as we knelt for Mass under the scene of calamity only this very morning. We all are in sorrow over the destruction of our beautiful Cathedral and in sympathy with our Bishop and his assistant priests."  Holy Names Sister Ilene Clark read the story from the Sisters' chronicle.

The Cathedral Choir of St. James encircles the altar for Bruckner's moving Locus Iste. "This place was made by God, a priceless mystery; it is without reproof."

The young people of our Youth Music Program perform a piece on Kazoos, under the direction of Stacey Sunde. There really was a kazoo band in the Cathedral's early days, and the children were key in helping raise money to rebuild.

The Seattle P-I reported: "Catholic Youngsters will perform in entertainment to benefit Cathedral Fund.-- Uniting in one of the most ambitious programs ever attempted by a Seattle school, pupils of the St. James Cathedral will appear at the Metropolitan Theater in a big dramatic entertainment for the benefit of the St. James Cathedral fund. From the standpoint of magnitude the entertainment will easily approach the largest theatrical productions in recent Seattle history. Directors of the production promise that it will be one of the most elaborately staged affairs ever seen in Seattle. Two hundred well-drilled children will take part. Tickets of admission are 50 cents and the public is urged to obtain these early. The proceeds will go to the cathedral."

A huge thank you to Tara Academy of Dance and all the young dancers who provided the gift of Irish stepdancing! From the P-I, October 1916: "Everything is in readiness for the opening of the big cathedral fair, for the benefit of the building fund of St. James Cathedral. Tomorrow evening Rt. Rev. Bishop E. J. O’Dea and Mayor H. C. Gill will deliver addresses at the formal opening. Those in charge of the event this year declare it will be better than anything of the kind ever held in the city. No pains have been spared. Elaborate preparations have been made to amuse those who attend. Bishop O’Dea is confident that a great number of Seattle citizens, irrespective of religious creeds, will attend the fair and aid In swelling the fund. Many contests will be held for special prizes and novel devices will be used to amuse the patrons. In the evening, there will be music and step-dancing."

The evening concluded by recalling the reopening of the Cathedral in 1917.  Father Ryan read the words of Monsignor Noonan, pastor of the Cathedral: "“God will in His own good time convert our sorrow into joy.” These were the courageous words of resignation and hope addressed by Bishop O’Dea to a dismayed and sorrowing people following the collapse of the St. James’ cathedral dome. All marveled at Bishop O’Dea’s spirit of fortitude and it was to all a source of inspiration, but few dared to hope for an immediate realization of a better and more magnificent St. James’ cathedral. Nevertheless, that promise is about to be fulfilled. When the doors of the cathedral are reopened tomorrow, then, truly will sorrow be converted into joy."

All lit candles and we sang together "Holy God, we praise thy name!"

Piper Tyrone Heade leads the asembly to the Hall for an ice cream social!

A huge thank you to our three narrators!

"Those in charge of the event this year declare it will be better than anything of the kind ever held in the city. No pains have been spared. Elaborate preparations have been made to amuse those who attend."
Thank you to all who attended and made this a night to remember!

For the history buffs:  Click here to download the script.


Dave Ross, Frances Kowal, Father Ryan, and Sister Ilene Clark, narrators
Dr. Paul Thornock, Director of Music
Joseph Adam, Cathedral Organist
The Cathedral Choir of St. James
The Cathedral Cantorei
Stacey Sunde, Director of Youth Music
The Cathedral Kazoo Band
The Schola Cantorum, and Jubilate!
Tyrone Heade, Cathedral Piper
Dale Russ, fiddler, and the Tara Academy of Dance
Celeste McDonell and the Cathedral Servers
Brenda Bellamy, John Marquez, Margaret Lynch, Cathedral Staff
Corinna Laughlin, Director of Liturgy
Maria Laughlin, Director of Development



Return to St. James Cathedral Parish Website

804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303