In Your Midst

From the Archives

Sept. 2009

The Cathedral Parish's Silver Jubilee

In the latter months of 1929, as the nation watched housing prices decline and the stock market plummet; as Black Thursday was followed, in quick succession, by Black Friday, Black Monday, and Black Tuesday; as unbridled optimism gave way to panic and uncertainty; not all the news was bad news.  In the midst of the gloom of economic crisis came the Silver Jubilee of the Cathedral Parish, a final, fleeting glimpse of the Roaring Twenties.

The Cathedral Parish had been established on November 13, 1904, and 1929 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of that august event.  The Cathedral’s visionary pastor, Monsignor James Gordon Stafford, was not about to let the moment pass unnoticed.  He planned a series of events which caused the whole city to sit up and take notice:  the Jubilee festivities were covered not only in the Catholic press, but in the Times and the P-I!

The celebration began on Sunday, November 24, with a solemn Mass during which the whole parish received Holy Communion—something that was by no means usual in those days.  The Mass was preceded by a great procession from Cathedral Hall, featuring dozens of Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, the 100 members of the Cathedral Choir, sixty altar servers, and numerous priests and bishops.  Visiting clergy came from as far away as Nebraska for the celebration.  The music was splendid, as always, and Bishop Armstrong of Sacramento presided (unfortunately, Bishop O’Dea was too sick to leave his bed!).  “I have loved the beauty of Thy house, the place where Thy glory dwelleth,” said Bishop Armstrong, quoting the psalm.  “For twenty-five years, the cross atop the Cathedral has carried a message of faith to the visitor here; for twenty-five years the doors of this parish’s church have been open to those who seek grace and heavenly solace.  How many have been healed and comforted in this holy temple of God!”

In the afternoon, there was Solemn Vespers, with full choir, followed by a banquet for the visiting prelates at the Sorrento.

The climax of the Silver Jubilee observance was a social event at the Olympic Hotel on December 3.  It was a conducted on a grand scale—three thousand people attended.  “Present and former members of the parish renewed acquaintanceship at a great card party and social,” reported the Progress.  Bridge and whist were played in the Spanish Ballroom, while the younger guests danced to the music of the Olympic orchestra in the Venetian Room.  Dozens of prizes were given away to the most successful card players; the richest of these was a brand-new Hupmobile sedan (silver, of course!).  The lucky winner was Miss Esther Marks, a resident of St. Teresa’s Home, a rooming house for unmarried girls located just across the street from the Cathedral at Marion Street and Terry Avenue.  The new car must have come as quite a surprise to the young University of Washington student!

For the Cathedral Parish, as for the nation and the world, lean times would follow.  But judging by the accounts of the  Silver Jubilee, the Roaring Twenties must have been fun while they lasted!

Corinna Laughlin is the Director of Liturgy at St. James Cathedral.

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