Washington, DC, May 20, 2007
California Major State Day
Californians Celebrated in Special Worship Service at Washington National Cathedral
Back to Press Releases »
WASHINGTON As the Right Rev. J. Jon Bruno began to consecrate the Eucharist at a May 20 service at Washington National Cathedral, he signaled for Monica Sengupta to join him at the altar.
Sengupta, 17, is a Cathedral acolyte. It is unusual for a young person to have such a place during a sacred ceremony, but Bishop Bruno of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, had a purpose.
It is important to me for you to understand why this is happening, Bruno told the congregation of 935 worshipers at the Cathedrals 11 am service. Monica is here to represent the greatest resource we have in humanity, our children. If we do not lift them up, if we do not teach them, if we do not embrace them with hands of healing, we do not do our jobs.
Sengupta took part in the prayer of consecration, then administered the chalice to the bishop, Dean Samuel Lloyd III of Washington National Cathedral, and other senior altar assistants before resuming her place among acolytes for the remainder of the service.
Bishop Brunos nod to youth was among the highlights of a special California Day celebration at Washington National Cathedral. Close to 200 visitors from the state and natives who now live in the Washington area were in attendance, including clergy and pilgrims from Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and Northern California.
People from the Golden State played major roles including reading Scripture and delivering gifts to the altar during the service offertory.
Indeed, in welcoming guests to the service Dean Lloyd remarked on the energy generated by the West Coast visitors. You can tell just by looking around that this is a livelier group than usual, he said.
The Welsh Choir of Southern California, based in San Marino, performed the service prelude, a vigorous 25 minute recital of hymns in the Welsh language. The presentation by the 32-member chorale, conducted by Frank Williams, was praised by worshipers.
We were just so honored to be able to represent our state, and to be here was a very special experience for all of us, said chief chorister Karen Vondra of Rancho Palos Verdes. We were very happy with the performance.
The Welsh Choir is one of only a handful of choirs in the nation that performs a Welsh repertoire in both Welsh and English. Soprano Melanie Henley-Hein performed a solo during the groups rendition of Ar Hyd Y Nos, a Welsh folk tune.
The Cathedral, which has hosted state funerals and other events of national significance, focuses on an individual state one Sunday each month, inviting church and civic leaders and worshipers of all faiths to raise their communities in prayer at the 11 am service.
Tari Livingston-Hughes of Winnetka, a member of the Welsh choir, also read Scripture. Livingston-Hughes, a high school English teacher in Grenada Hills who is blind, translated the reading from the Acts of the Apostles into Braille for delivery at the service.
Livingston-Hughes said as she transcribed a recording of the reading into Braille, she could picture how it would sound in the cavernous Cathedral.
While I was listening back and seeing what I had written matched what I was hearing, I was hearing the praises sounding in my mind so I had an idea how it would sound in a cathedral space, she said. So when I got up to read I cant say I was surprised. I expected the sounds I was hearing, and then all my work during the time I was reading was to give respect and dignity to the Word of God and let the Word tell the story itself.
Bishop Bruno, who became leader of the Los Angeles diocese in 2002, presided over the service. A longstanding advocate of youth and families, Bruno said his practice of urging young people to take an active role at the altar has paid dividendsnext month he plans to ordain two people who got their start by joining in with him at services.
My thinking is we dont pay enough attention to our kids, Bruno said. We get them to serve meals at parish functions, we get them to be in youth groups, but we dont invite them at the center of the holy table. We need to be at a place where we can have our young people at the holy table with us. They are not in any way, shape or form taking over for the celebrant but where they are taking part in the mystery of the Mass close up.
Dean Lloyd delivered the sermon. He said when he was growing up in the1960s, the sun-drenched image of California as portrayed by the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas and others in pop culture represented a freedom to many people.
But freedom can be a mixed blessing, he said. Modern conveniences like cell phones and handheld e-mail devices allow people to be free to work all the time, and to be stressed out. In the consumer society, people are free to choose among dozens of brands of household items and to drive themselves into debt as never before.
The irony is that all these choices are not making us happier but unhappier as we agonize whether we make the right choices, Lloyd said.
Real freedom is a strange thing. We will never find it by chasing our next desire, Lloyd said. What makes us free is love, learning trust and binding ourselves to that love in promises and commitments we make to live it out with our family and community.
An America that is truly free, he said, is not one where people seek freedom from self-responsibility but one in which the goal is to build a just society for all.
U.S. Rep. John Campbell of Irvine carried the state flag during the grand opening procession. He placed it on the chancel steps, where it was to remain for a week as a further acknowledgement of the state.
Campbell applauded the service. Its important to have places where we are neither Republican nor Democrat, and where we are neither for a particular bill or against a particular bill but where we are all Americans, he said.
Meryl Dun of Carmel, Barbara Colbert of Torrance, Beatrice Floyd of Redondo Beach and Audrie Wing of Hermosa Beach, carried gifts to the altar during the Offertory. Members of St. James Episcopal Church of La Jolla attended the service as part of the congregations Centennial.
Following the service, the National Cathedral Association hosted a reception for all visitors. Afterwards, guides led special tours of the Cathedral, the sixth-largest in the world. The tours highlights references to California such as the St. Cecilia Processional Organ that was designed and built by James R. Garner of Crestline, and the Frohman Memorial Bay, which pays tribute to Philip Hubert Frohman of Pasadena, the Cathedrals architect from 1921 until his death in 1972.
ATTN PRINT MEDIA: If you desire e-mail transmission of this account and/or photos sent as JPEG attachments please contact Elizabeth Mullen at the number above. Available on the website are print-quality photos of Washington National Cathedral (Photos for Print under News at www.cathedral.org/cathedral).
SOURCE: Washington National Cathedral