In Your Midst

From the Archives

April 2009

A Heavenly Homecoming

Proud father:  Eugene Belcourt with daughter Lorraine Gertrude
on the day of her baptism, November 20, 1921.

        After their mother died, twins Gwen Johnson and Carolyn Schmidt were going through some of their mother’s papers.  They came across some photos they had never seen before, including this photo of their mother and grandfather on the day of her baptism.

         “When I looked at this photo of Mom and Grandfather in front of the Cathedral,” Gwen says, “the fact that I couldn’t see her made it even better for me.  She had just died and the picture was symbolic.  This was the beginning of her journey, and her beautiful funeral, also at St. James, was the end of the journey.  When I look at the buggy, I can see Mom’s casket.”
When Eugene and Gertrude Belcourt moved to Seattle from Saskatchewan, they settled on First Hill at an apartment near the Cathedral.  It was here that their first child, Lorraine, was born on September 25, 1921.  She was baptized at St. James Cathedral by Father Corkery on November 20, 1921.

         Later the family would move to Queen Anne, where Grandfather Belcourt founded Queen Anne Electric (later Queen Anne Hardware).  Lorraine was passionate about music and during her high school years at Holy Names Academy she pursued her musical studies and often played the piano for Masses there.  She joined the Ladies’ Musical Club at nineteen and studied music for two years at the University of Washington (finishing her degree in organ performance forty years later at the age of 61!).

         Over the years, Lorraine played in virtually every Catholic Church in the city, including St. James.  A special joy was playing the organ for the novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel at the Carmelite Monastery in Shoreline.  Hers was a life “literally immersed in church music,” as Father Ryan said at Lorraine’s funeral Mass in December, 2005.  “Her career as a church musician touched the very heart and soul of the Church here in Seattle.”

         Daughters Gwen and Carolyn grew up “immersed in music” as well.  “Mom had musicians over by the dozens.  We were surrounded by beautiful music—sometimes we even got tired of it!”

         Since 1989, daughter Gwen has made a home here at St. James.  She loves the fact that her family’s history is tied up with the history of our Cathedral, and that her mother’s life began and ended in this beautiful place.


Back to the April 2009 Issue of In Your Midst

Back To In Your Midst Page