Stories from the First Cathedral 59

The Very Rev. Canon James Zotalis

Stories from the First Cathedral 59

Christmas decorations went up early at the First Cathedral this year, on Nov 6th. This was to make the Cathedral festive for the Gala fundraiser for the Community Cafe. The decorations were put up by the Cathedral congregation (including the Sunday school children) and those on the board of the Cafe. It was a very ecumenical undertaking followed by a scrumptious lunch in the Gilbert Hall dining room. On November 13th, the Gala was a great success, with appetizers, silent auction, and entertainment by the Loonie Lutherans. The Christmas decorations inspired many generous people that evening, who gave more than $8,000.

In 1987, I remember my family helping with decorating the Cathedral on a Saturday morning in December. The highlight was my children participating with the crew who brought in a live pine tree measuring over 20 feet from the West doors. An experienced crew went to work with ladders to decorate the monster with lights and ornaments. The congregation left the tree up for my ordination to the priesthood on Jan 8, 1988. The reason I lived in Faribault in 1987 was to accept my first position after seminary as chaplain of Shattuck-St. Mary's School.

I want to end this article of Christmas memories from the First Cathedral with trivia about the Cathedral bell tower completed in 1902, using gifts from around the world, encouraged by Evangeline Whipple after Bishop Whipple's death a year before. The tradition is that the first hymn played from the tower bells was . . . "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."

In closing, I would like to share a bit of Bishop Whipple's theology of Christmas and the Incarnation from his autobiography Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate (page 395).

"The Incarnation is the revelation of God's love toward his suffering creatures. It reveals the Creator of the Universe as the Everlasting Father. It brings to us the Eternal Son as a brother and Saviour. It gives a Guide, the Comforter and Helper of all humankind."