Sioux Falls cathedral renovation project points to the divine


The Cathedral of St. Joseph in Sioux Falls, S.D is undergoing a three-year makeover  to restore the it to the original vision of the architect, to create an endowment for its future maintenance and to bring the 90-year old electrical system up to code.

The restoration  aspires to bring the Cathedral closer to the artistic vision of the original architect. Though the stained glass and much of the elaborate work on the ceiling is original and beautiful, the plaster around the windows is deteriorating, there are eight layers of paint inside the church which are peeling off, and the floor needs some work.

The current restoration of St. Joseph's Cathedral will solve the problem of the antiquated electrical system, as well as the inadequate sound system.

“We have a gem here that needs some attention,” remarks Bishop Swain on the website for the Cathedral's restoration. “Those who came before us built this with great vision, with tenacity, with patience, and with sacrifice at a time when this was a relatively small community, not the great city it is now. We have the responsibility to honor them and what they did, I think, by caring for what they gave us and passing it on to those yet to come.”

Bishop Swain, who is continuing some of the restoration work begun by Bishop Robert Carlson in 1998, has a very personal understanding of the importance of a cathedral as a spiritual home within a diocese. He recounted the following story in the official brochure about the renovation.

“I am keenly aware of the fact that this is a treasure that we could lose. I was rector of the St. Raphael Cathedral in Madison, WI when it was set on fire by an arsonist. To experience standing on the street as these brave firefighters were trying to put this fire to rest, then to have the building gone with a sudden whoosh—I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. It motivates me because I know what the loss of a cathedral means to a diocese. Suddenly there wasn’t a place to come for special events, to ordain priests, to celebrate enduring marriages, and to bless the oils in the same way that the Cathedral allows,” Bishop Swain wrote.

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