In Your Midst

The Century at St. James
from the Chronicle of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus & Mary

November 2004

The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary have an established tradition of keeping a house chronicle.  The chronicles of the Cathedral Convent provide a unique first-hand account of Cathedral history, sometimes moving, sometimes amusing, and give us glimpses into changes in the Church and in the world as well.  Special thanks to Sister Anne Herkenrath for her help and encouragement with this project.


September 5, 1911. We opened school today, using four classrooms in St. Rose’s Academy, awaiting completion of the new Cathedral School. Thirty-seven boys were enrolled and fifty-nine girls... The Reverend Pastors are most kind and attentive to all the needs of teachers and pupils.

September 1, 1914. Today has been a busy day, but all feel encouraged at the outset, owing to the large enrollment of three hundred ten earnest boys and girls. Reverend William Noonan, our beloved Pastor, after meeting the children with his accustomed fatherly greeting and welcome, had each class go from the auditorium to its appointed room.

January 4, 1915. Right Reverend Edward John O’Dea paid us a pleasant New Year's call this evening in our community room. Much kindly advice was given, the keynote of which was, “Live one day at a time; do not worry about tomorrow.”

February 2, 1916. Shortly after the classes were dismissed this afternoon, we were startled by what we thought was a heavy snow slide, and upon looking out 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.
    Viewed from within, the beautiful building of Italian Renaissance architecture looked like the scenes of destruction wrought by the cannons in Belgium.
    Why this dome, designed by architects to be of the strongest principle of construction, collapsed is a question architects cannot answer. The loss is estimated at about seventy-five thousand dollars.
    We have to thank God and our Blessed Lady for their almost miraculous protection as we knelt for Mass under the scene of the calamity only that very morning. We all are in sorrow over the destruction of our beautiful cathedral in sympathy with our devoted Bishop and his assistant priests.

February 3, 1916. The snow continues to fall. Several of the sisters are helping to transform the school hall into the Cathedral chapel.

February 6, 1916. Today, being Sunday, the parishioners assembled in the temporary chapel for the different masses which are said every half hour from six until eleven inclusive. All are edified by the practical faith shown by the clergy in their resignation to the holy will of God and their thanksgiving that no lives were lost in the calamity.

October 6, 1918. Because of the flu epidemic this morning found the steps of the school arranged as an out-door chapel for the celebration of the Holy Mass. Seven Masses were celebrated and all were well attended, though after the second Mass a slight rain began to fall, obliging the worshipers to hold umbrellas. This striking spectacle of the true Catholic Faith was very impressive and left memories with us of what depth the soul reaches in misfortune. When face to face with the awful terrors of even a physical calamity how quickly we realize that our sole hope lies in Him "Who can save" and Who will always protect those who turn to Him in every need of soul and body.

April 10, 1919. At 2:30 this afternoon a farewell reception for Very Reverend W. J. Noonan was held in the Cathedral Hall by the pupils of the school. After voicing their heartfelt appreciation of their beloved benefactor’s labors for them, the children presented a purse of one hundred and fifty dollars. Father then addressed the pupils and thanked them for their cooperation with him in all his undertakings while pastor of St. James Cathedral and director of the school, as well as for their good will and docility as his spiritual children. His Lordship, Right Reverend E. J. O'Dea, who graced the occasion by his genial presence, also spoke to the assembly and in a few choice phrases told of the work accomplished for the church and school by the untiring zeal of the pastor to whom he, too, must bid good-bye. “True,” he added, “Tacoma is not far away and at least we can reach Father Noonan by telegram, and we can always reach him by prayer.”

September 5, 1922. School opened this morning. So great was the enrollment throughout the grades that by ten o'clock, several classrooms were filled beyond capacity and place had to be provided for the overflow.

Bishop O'Dea celebrates his silver jubilee, 1921.  Courtesy of the Archives of the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle.

March 17, 1923. Excavation for the new boys’ High School began this week. Reverend Father Stafford, our very zealous pastor, plans to make this an exceptional structure. It is to be an all-steel construction and will cost approximately two hundred thousand dollars. The Christian Brothers have been engaged to teach here.

March 14, 1925. The boys’ surpliced choir, consisting of one hundred boys from the Cathedral and O’Dea schools, sang the Roman-Gregorian Mass over the radio from the auditorium of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce this afternoon. This is the first time in the world’s history that the music of the Mass has been broadcasted. The Northwest Radio Service Company, owners and operators of KJR, perfected special arrangements for the transmission.

May 21, 1927. “Spirit of St. Louis.” Seattle, like all the other great cities of the United States, in fact most of the great cities of the world, is aroused to thrilling excitement, highest admiration, and fiery enthusiasm over the news that the first non-stop flight over the thousands of miles of the Atlantic’s mighty waters have been accomplished and this by a brave young American. Bells are ringing, extra editions of the daily papers are being shouted by newsboys on every corner, and everywhere is being told the wondrous story of this great event. How good God is to give to man knowledge and power to dare and to achieve. May the great achievements of the youthful Charles Lindbergh bring glory to God and promote the good of other heroic souls.

October 13, 1931. Epochal in history of Seattle is St. Edward’s Day this year, the feast of our beloved Bishop, for it brings the realization of the chief object of his labor and dreams for the Church of the Northwest during the past half-century, the dedication of St. Edward’s Seminary... Enthusiastic is the acclaim accorded our beloved Bishop at the close of his noble address. Here is a chieftain indeed, not only to be reverenced for his long years of service, but to be gloried in for his dynamic leadership. Thirty-six years a Bishop, directing the Church in this state through three eras, the pioneer, the transitional, and the present! Yet, today, vigorous, alert, in step with the moment and instinct with power for achievement in this great cause to which he has given forty-nine years of priestly service. This is truly a feast of joy for our beloved Bishop and for all of his diocese who rejoice in his great happiness. A school holiday is proclaimed in honor of the great day.

December 25, 1932. At the close of this beautiful feast there passed to his eternal reward our beloved Bishop, Edward John O’Dea, who has directed this Diocese for more than thirty-six years. Just two days ago, Bishop O’Dea observed the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the holy priesthood, the solemn celebration of which was held on Thanksgiving Day. Bishop O’Dea’s last words to priests and members of his family gathered about his bedside were, “God bless you all.”

October 13, 1947. While attending the Northwest Regional Catholic Conference in Portland, Oregon, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Gerald Shaughnessy, S.M., S.T.D., and Bishop, suffered a recurrence of the illness which he suffered in a similar manner two years ago, while enroute east. Our sympathy and prayers are offered for a speedy recovery.

April 23, 1948. This evening our new bishop, the Most Reverend Thomas A. Connolly, D.D., J.C.D., accompanied by the Right Reverend John F. Gallagher, V.G., came to visit us. They spent a pleasant half hour in our community room with us.

December 21, 1948. According to custom in our school, pupils who are active members of the Altar Boys’ Society and of the choirs assembled in the auditorium at two o’clock for a Christmas party. The guests of Very Reverend John F. Gallagher, V.G., pastor of St. James Cathedral, they enjoyed an hour of exhilarating fun, partook of abundant refreshments, and received gifts and candy boxes. There was never a quiet moment as each human dynamo played to exhaustion in a riot of fun which will, no doubt, stand out in bright relief, when, older grown, these dear children turn to childhood reminiscing.

February 9, 1957. By thoughtful arrangement of His Excellency, the Most Reverend Thomas A. Connolly, Archbishop of Seattle and through the courtesy of the Fifth Avenue Theatre we were privileged to see The Ten Commandments this morning. This production by Cecil B. DeMille is judged to be one of the most inspiring pictures ever filmed. The sisters who attended left the theatre profoundly impressed by the awe-inspiring photography in this magnificent Biblical drama.

May 13, 1960. Our annual May crowning of our Blessed Mother took place this evening at seven forty-five in the Cathedral. All the children marched in procession singing hymns as they entered the church. The boys and girls of the living rosary took their places in the aisles of the church, each holding a candle which was lighted as the Hail Mary of the decade was said by the children and the congregation. Our Lady was then crowned.

January 18, 1961. Through the generosity of the Most Reverend Thomas Gill, D.D., we received a lovely new television set. The television is a General Electric model and is encased in a beautiful cabinet of hardwood. It is truly a most generous and timely gift. It was interesting to note that our first program on the new television was the inaugural ceremony of John F. Kennedy as President of the United States.

August 5, 1964. A New Convent. Last Friday was a memorable day in the history of our Sisters and of the parish. The old convent was to be demolished so the Sisters had only four days to move from 1023 Marion Street to the site of our new convent across from the Cathedral Church. Packing, hauling, transporting luggage and cartons by the dozens was the order of the day. Finally on Friday evening six weary sisters were treated to a surprise supper provided by Mrs. John Hewitt and prepared by her two daughters Linda and Kathleen.

December 21, 1965. No sooner returned from the Second Session of Vatican II General Council, our beloved pastor, His Excellency Thomas E. Gill, D.D., enjoyed a feast day assembly presented by all the students of St. James Cathedral School. The program consisted of Christmas music sung by various classes, a charming tableau, and presentation of a spiritual bouquet to which His Excellency responded graciously, as always.

February 7, 1968. Several of our sisters attended the Catholic Interracial Council's first annual Interfaith Civil Rights Banquet at 7:00pm in the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. Twenty-one hundred tickets were sold for this event.
May 26, 1972. Final Mass of the Cathedral Grade School. A Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated by Bishop Gill to mark the closing of the grade school which was opened in 1912. It is no longer possible for the Cathedral grade school to remain open due to a drop in enrollment.

November 4, 1973. Eucharistic Ministers Installed. Today at the Noon Mass, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Thomas E. Gill, installed Sister Margaret Jane Downey and Sister Maureen Maloney as parish ministers of Communion. This will enable them to give Communion to the many shut-ins of the parish. Both Sisters do many things in the parish.
    Sister Margaret Jane writes: “I assist with the religious education programs in the parish. I visit, encourage, help the elderly—individually and collectively—in the apartments, convalescent centers and hospitals. This is a parish of many apartment houses of various income brackets, for the most part elderly, lonely, and the poor. Two days a week I visit all Catholic patients in one of the area hospitals, where I bring Communion to the patients. Other duties include convert instructions twice a week at the home; visiting and encouraging ‘fallen-aways’; visiting parishioners in hospitals; helping the poor in the parish by making contacts for food, clothing, and housing; informing needy families and elderly of the public assistance available; contacting and encouraging ‘new-comers’ to register in the parish; and keeping records and file cards updated in our office.”

November 11, 1973. We received word this evening of the sudden death of our pastor, the Most Reverend Thomas E. Gill. Bishop Gill collapsed and died at the Statler Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC, where he had gone to attend the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. He has been a dear friend to the Sisters of the Holy Names, so we all feel his loss.

July 14, 1974. Reverend William E. Gallagher, the newly appointed pastor of St. James Cathedral, was installed today at the Noon Mass by Most Rev. Thomas A. Connolly.

May 22, 1975. Our sisters attended the installation of our new archbishop this evening at the Seattle Center arena. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Raymond G. Hunthausen, formerly the Bishop of Helena, Montana, is the second Archbishop of Seattle. His Excellency, the Most Reverend Thomas A. Connolly, now retired, gave twenty-seven years of devoted service to the Archdiocese. From all indications, Archbishop Hunthausen seems to be a very warm person deeply interested in the needs of his people, a true Shepherd of the flock.

July 16, 1975. Vietnamese Refugees to be Tutored. Since Washington State has offered to assist South Vietnamese refugees at the invitation of Governor Daniel Evans (our state is the only one to do so), many agencies and religious groups have been helping with sponsorship and providing of services. One of the needs is help with speaking and writing of English for those not having knowledge of the language. Sister Terence Maureen Riley, a member of the Literacy Council of Seattle, was approached by Reverend John Renggli, the Archdiocesan Director of the Propagation of the Faith, about the possibility of a tutoring program for refugees... Today, Sister Terence Maureen and other members of the Literacy Council, welcomed twenty-five adult Vietnamese... In the past month about forty-five tutors have been trained in three sessions totaling eighteen hours.\

September 28, 1978. Catholics all over the world were stunned to hear of the sudden death of our newly elected Holy Father after only thirty-four days as Pope. He died at about eleven p.m. of a massive heart attack. He had been reading the Imitation of Christ and had a smile on his face when he was found.

October 16, 1978. At ten-fifty this morning, television announced that His Holiness, Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla aged fifty-eight was elected as the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years, taking the name John Paul II. He endeared himself to the Italian people by addressing them in Italian, requesting them to correct him if he made a mistake.

April 12, 1980. Holy Thursday. After the ceremonies commemorating the night before our Lord’s death, a parish dinner was held in our school hall. In imitation of our Lord, the Most Reverend Raymond Hunthausen and priests of the parish waited on table.

July 24, 1988. The Very Reverend Michael G. Ryan was installed as Pastor of St. James Cathedral Parish. We are happy to welcome this capable and much loved priest to our large and diverse parish.

August 12, 1991. This weekend our Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen participated in many events marking his retirement. During Archbishop Hunthausen’s ministry among us he had endeared himself to many.

March 27, 1994. This particular celebration of the Holy Week liturgies marks the “last time” in the present church configuration. The Cathedral, during the months of April through December, will be closed for much needed restoration and renovation. Sunday liturgies will be celebrated in the O’Dea gymnasium; weekday morning Masses will be held in the Parish Hall and the 12:10 and 5:30 pm Masses will be held in the Chapel. The actual start of construction comes after four years of planning and fund raising by staff, parishioners, and consultants.

December 22, 1994. The Dedication Mass began at three o’clock this afternoon. The Altar and the four walls of the church were anointed with Chrism Oil and incensed by Archbishop Murphy and Father Ryan in a very impressive and liturgically rich ceremony.

December 24, 1994. St. James, the Magnificent. This Sunday’s edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer carried a section on the restored Cathedral. “It is now a light-struck basilica with resonant sound, open views, a new skylight, new tower bells…” Each time we attend Mass we are aware of another hidden beauty.

December 25, 1994. The Vigil Mass at 5:30pm and the Midnight Mass were both well beyond the seating capacity of the church with 2500 at 5:30pm and approximately 4,000 at the Midnight Mass.

July 3, 1997. Since Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy died on June 26, 1997 many unique services have been arranged. Requiem Mass at St. James Cathedral was offered for the Archbishop today.

November 28, 1997. Pope John Paul II has appointed the Most Reverend Alexander J. Brunett Archbishop of Seattle. We pray that the church in Western Washington will welcome Archbishop Brunett to Seattle and be open to his leadership.

December 17, 1999. Our pastor, Very Reverend Michael G. Ryan, blessed the new bronze ceremonial doors installed in the west entrance to the Cathedral. They are truly magnificent—reminiscent of ancient times when few of the laity could read, as they depict the history of the world, church and tradition.

January 22, 2000. Most people were surprised beyond their wildest expectations at the unexpected number of attendees at the various churches open to venerate the relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. The line reached from the front steps down to Ninth Avenue, south to Columbia Street, north along Columbia to Terry.

September 11, 2001. We were shocked this morning to hear the devastating news from New York. The parish immediately set up a place of prayer on the front steps and had an ecumenical prayer service that evening. As word spread of this tragic moment a steady stream of people came to St. James. One person said when asked by the media, “where else, other than St. James, could a person go to pray in a quiet place?”


The rest remains to be written!  The Sisters of the Holy Names have ministered so faithfully at St. James for nearly 100 years.  On January 23, 2005, at the 10:00am Mass, we will celebrate the irreplaceable gift the Sisters have been to this Cathedral Parish.  May this fruitful association continue for many years to come!  All these materials are reprinted courtesy of the Archives of the Sisters of the Holy Names, Washington Province. An expanded version of this Chronicle is available at the Centennial Page.

Other articles in the November 2004

Celebrating the Human Part of this Great Place

One Hundred Years Ago

The Pew Next to You

Parish Annual Report 2003-2004

The Cathedral in Cyberspace

Image of the Divine

Cathedral Almanac

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