Thursday, November 24, 2016

Reflecting on Our First Five Years - Turning a House Into a Home

Written by  Jim Nakoneshny


On December 18th, 2016 we will celebrate five years since moving into our new parish and diocesan home at the Cathedral of the Holy Family. Recently I was asked if there was anything I’d wished we’d done differently when designing and building the Cathedral. While there are a few minor tweaks that may have been helpful, I’m generally quite happy with how this new space has worked for us. Coincidentally, a few days later I came across a blog I had written five years earlier, shortly before we moved into the new building. In it I stated:

“…it’s easy to fall into the habit of expounding on the technical highlights of construction, or marveling at the interaction of steel and stone and glass, rather than focusing on why we’re building in the first place. It is a tool which can help enable us to live out our lives in better service to God and for each other; so we can gather more effectively as a parish or diocesan family to nurture our faith; to celebrate the joys of life, or help share the sorrows…”

On January 1st, 2012 at the formal blessing of our new Cathedral, Archbishop Albert LeGatt who had launched the planning and design of the facility as our Bishop before being moved to the Archdiocese of St. Boniface in 2009, was present along with Bishop Donald Bolen and Cathedral Rector Fr. David Tumback.

“This is a place of beauty,” LeGatt said of the new building, while emphasizing the difference between a house and a home. “I share your joy and your pride, and I just congratulate you on what you have accomplished: the creation of this beautiful place. But that is ‘house.’ Home is more,” he said, describing home as a place of respect, of openness to others, of faithful love and life shared. “You are called to be the home of Jesus.” 1  

Over these past five years we have tried to live out that calling, following the subsequent examples of both Bishop Don and Fr. David. Existing parish groups have grown and flourished, and many new ones have started. In addition, we’ve been able to support a multitude of community functions such as Seniors Health & Fitness programs, Youth programs, fundraisers, concerts, choir workshops, the Saskatoon Music Festival and numerous school celebrations. A number of faith-formation programs have also taken root here.

We have opened our doors and opened our hearts to those within our faith community and those beyond. In the past 12 months alone: We welcomed the local Jewish community so a Holocaust survivor could share his painful story with 2,500 schoolchildren; We celebrated the installation of a Treaty plaque inside the Cathedral, honouring the history we share with our First Nations communities and pledging to walk forward together in solidarity; We offered our worship space to the Orthodox community as they buried a beloved priest, when their own facilities could not accommodate the services; We’ve witnessed Ukrainian Catholic school liturgies, a Chaldean Catholic wedding, Vietnamese-Catholic liturgies, as well as several celebratory gatherings of the Filipino, Chaldean, Muslim and Indo-Canadian communities.

In each of these instances of welcoming others, the communities involved have expressed their profound thanks for our generosity and our willingness to share our home with them.

So, in retrospect, I think that as we approach our 5th anniversary the proper question to contemplate is not “What did we get wrong,” but rather, “What are we doing right?” And let’s strive to do it more often.

Jim Nakoneshny is Facilities Manager of the Cathedral of the Holy Family and was

Chair of the Cathedral Building Committee and Liturgical Design Committee

1-Kip Yaworski, for the Prairie Messenger

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