Pastor's Letter

Dear Friends,

Rather frequently these days I get a glowing letter, often from a visitor from across the country or even from across the world, telling me how magnificent our cathedral is and, what I like even better, how prayerful and wonderful our liturgies are. Whenever I get one of these, I find myself saying a quiet prayer of gratitude to God for letting me be part of this incredible place that is such a blessing to so many This month I begin my 10th year here as pastor. They have been years full of grace for me, and full of challenge, too.

Do you realize, for instance, that it is now about six years since we first announced the cathedral renovation project, and nearly three years since the re-dedication? During those years, our community has grown considerably, our liturgy has come to be regarded nationally as a model for cathedral liturgies, and our social outreach has increased by leaps and bounds. But that's the way it is with cathedrals. An old saying has it that they are never completed, and to that I would add that they never stand still!

Architectural rendering of the organ The Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Millenium Organ, shown here in an architectural rendering, is scheduled to be completed in mid-1999.
A case in point: over the past year, a group of people, many of them our parishioners but not all of them, have quietly set themselves to the task of raising money to pay for one of the unfinished aspects of the recent renovation, the building of the new organ in the cathedral's east apse. As many of you know, this was one project that was wisely postponed at the time of the renovation. There were more necessary things to be done at that time. Now with all those things accomplished, the time seemed right to address the small organ that used to be hidden behind the high altar and which is now blocking two-thirds of one of the magnificent new stained glass windows.

The organ is not a luxury. Many great cathedrals have two or more organs. St. James needs two organs. With the new seating arrangement, the organ in the east apse which was installed in 1926 to accompany a small men's choir is now needed to support congregational singing at all the Masses. It is also needed in order to be able to play the full range of great literature written for the organ.

Pipe organs are expensive. Good ones are especially so. This one will cost $800,000. But thanks to the amazing generosity of some 72 donors, $700,000 has already been contributed! Over the next few months, an opportunity is being given, for any of our parishioners or friends who wish, to contribute toward the remaining $100,000. And the most promising aspect of this is that we really only need to raise $50,000, thanks to a challenge put forth by some generous friends of the cathedral, Keith and Mary Kay McCaw. They have not only matched dollar for dollar the last $50,000 raised but have agreed to match every additional dollar raised right up to our $800,000 goal.

When completed in mid-1999, the new organ will be a marvelous addition to the cathedral. It will be beautiful to hear, and beautiful to look at. The renowned American organ builder, Manuel Rosales of Los Angeles, has already begun work on the instrument. In going about his work, he will make use of some of the pipes in the existing organ, but will be adding many more. When finished, the pipes will be arranged between the great stained-glass windows, and continue around to the north and south walls, giving the east apse the finished appearance it now lacks.

An especially happy aspect of the new organ is that it will bear the name of our late Archbishop, whose unfailing and enthusiastic support for the cathedral liturgy and music is one of our greatest gifts. The organ will be called The Archbishop Thomas J. Murphy Millennium Organ.

At another place in this newsletter, you will find information about how you can participate financially should you wish. In the next issue of In Your Midst I will share with you some wonderful news about yet one more exciting addition to the cathedral: a set of ceremonial bronze doors for the main west entrance. These have already been donated by several generous friends of the Cathedral and are presently being fashioned by a world-renowned artist.

Father Michael G. Ryan

Back To Aug 97 Issue