God is not served well in mediocrity
By Marcus Ashlock
Missionary discipleship can manifest itself in many forms as we use the gifts bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit. While the phrase seems daunting, it does not always mean dragging non-Christians to Mass or Bible study, or yelling about Christ to cars at 41st and Louise.
Maybe your gift is an extroverted evangelism where you have never met a stranger and love telling the Good News of salvation. Toward the other extreme, your gift may be administration and coordination, getting the plan set and executed well. It may be fundraising and encouragement to draw donors to a lofty goal. It could also be reaching parishioners through music.
At Mass, as we prepare our hearts to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, the source and summit of our faith, music can lift our spirits toward the divine as we worship Christ and his sacrifice on Calvary. Imagine an organist and music director attempting to use those gifts when an organ is in disrepair and many of the pipes are not functional.
“The current organ at St. Joseph’s Cathedral was completed and installed in 1990. While it’s not that old, over the years we’ve attempted, as best as we could, to maintain it and perform maintenance on it,” Father James Morgan, rector of the cathedral, said. “We have a wind system depleting to the point where it has to be replaced; it can no longer be fixed.”
According to Father Morgan, the instrument is a 40-stop organ with pipes beyond repair and inoperable. Of the 40 stops, only 25 are functional. In musical terms, the inability to repair and use the organ affects its sound and tone. In truth, the current organ was not built or constructed in a manner to compliment the acoustics and aesthetics of the cathedral.
Father Morgan and Dr. Jared Ostermann, Cathedral of Saint Joseph’s director of music and organist, assembled a committee of musicians, non-musicians, clergy and laity to select a maker of a new organ specifically and musically designed for the cathedral. They desired a design to produce the best sound for the space—sounds to elevate the congregant’s heart toward God during worship. After investigating the top builders on this side of the world, a Montreal company, Juget-Sinclair, was chosen.
“The current organ has numerous mechanical and musical issues, and rather than spending large amounts to renovate a mediocre instrument, we chose to build a world-class instrument from the ground up,” Dr. Ostermann said. “We felt they were the best fit for our cathedral in terms of their build quality, reputation and musical approach.”
Juget-Sinclair only builds one organ at a time with their young, dedicated staff focusing solely on one project. The new organ for the cathedral required a deposit to secure the spot, and with the company’s current organ project for Richmond, Virginia, set to be completed this summer, the new organ for Sioux Falls will begin and be completed by 2025.
“They also have a strong and fairly young team, and we felt there was a good opportunity to have a long relationship with the company post-installation,” Dr. Ostermann said.
The Cathedral of Saint Joseph is a French-Romanesque design and the Juget-Sinclair company is French. After traveling to listen to a Martin Pasi organ in Omaha and a Juget-Sinclair organ in Lincoln, the committee voted for their top choice. The Juget-Sinclair designers arrived in Sioux Falls to a French-designed cathedral and the partnership began.
In addition to the new organ, the cathedral rectory is also in need of repair, and the two projects will be combined so the rectory may be used once again to house priests in the future. Currently, the priests are living in the carriage house located behind the bishop’s residence. Although the home was not designed for living as it was used for offices for many years, priests serving the cathedral have lived there for more than 20 years.
“We started this research investigation, knowing we had future projects way back in 2018. We had to decide whether we were going to either fix the organ that we had or purchase a new one,” Father Morgan said. “We had a gift that was given to us for liturgy and music, so we used the $180,000 as a down payment so it did not come out of our operational budget. At the same time, we also knew that we had to move back into the original historical rectory.”
Father Morgan says that when the Adoration Sisters moved in more than 20 years ago, the rectory was already in need of renovation, especially big infrastructure items such as deteriorating plumbing and HVAC system. The rectory is in the early stages of the project, with the roof being replaced and the interior has been gutted.
Unfortunately, the initial project cost has risen post-COVID; what was going to be an expenditure between $5 million and $6 million for both the organ and the rectory renovation has now become a project of $9.131 million. Father Morgan states the silent campaign has raised more than 90 percent of the funding needs, and the public campaign began in May 2023. The remaining project funding needed from the public campaign is $660,308.
According to Father Morgan, this total project also includes an endowment to sustain any needed upkeep and repair so future capital campaigns will not be needed. The Catholic Community Foundation of Eastern South Dakota is managing the project funding.
With more than 135,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Sioux Falls, the public campaign should take little effort. Men and women, adults and youth all can work together to raise the last bit of funding to allow our diocesan cathedral to flourish through the evangelism of the Word of God, as well as that of music. Words spoken and sung for the glory of God can tear down the strongest non-Christian or atheist defense, allowing one to hear Christ knocking on the door of his or her heart.
If you or your parish group would like to organize a fundraising drive to participate, please contact your local parish priest or visit CCFESD.org. You can also call (605) 988-3788 for more information about the project or to donate.