Pres. Monson represents LDS Church at ceremony in Catholic cathedral

President Thomas S. Monson represented the First Presidency and the Church at a ceremony Feb. 20 in which one of Salt Lake City's landmark buildings, the Catholic Church's Cathedral of the Madeleine, was rededicated as extensive renovation work nears completion.

President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke in the rededicatory service in which other speakers included the Most Rev. Agostino Cacciavillan, papal pro-nuncio to the United States, representing Pope John Paul II; and His Eminence Roger Cardinal Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles; and Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt.Also attending the rededication services were Elders James E. Faust and Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve, and many individuals representing civic and state offices and community organizations.

President Monson expressed appreciation for the privilege to extend greetings and commendation from members of the LDS Church in Salt Lake City and from throughout the world.

"Your efforts put forth in the monumental task of restoring the magnificent Cathedral of the Madeleine are nothing short of miraculous," President Monson told the Catholic Church's leadership. "This beautiful cathedral not only is a historic landmark in Salt Lake City, but a state and national treasure as well. All who have participated in its restoration feel a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving."

President Monson referred to the words of English essayist John Ruskin to describe the restoration effort and skill, and the devotion and love that it entailed:

" `Wherefore, when we build let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone; let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think as we lay stone on stone that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred, because our hands have touched them; and men will say, as they look upon the labour and wrought substances of them: See, this our fathers did for us.' "

Before concluding his remarks, President Monson said: "May this house of worship, this place of peace, this safe sanctuary from the cares of the world - even the beloved Cathedral of the Madeleine - continue to brighten our skyline and be a source of inspiration in our lives."

To the Most Rev. William K. Weigand, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, President Monson said: "You have helped to bring to this community through your personal endeavors a unity of effort of which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is pleased to be a part - in clothing the poor, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and blessing the lives of those in need. May the Prince of Peace bless your life and the lives of all who honor His name and walk in His footsteps."

Archbishop Cacciavillan spoke of the importance of the cathedral to the community, calling the edifice "a witness to art, spiritual and moral values." He referred also to the similarity between members of the Catholic and LDS churches in their focus on family values.

Cardinal Mahony commended the Catholics of Utah and the Salt Lake community for making the renovation possible. "Many who are not of the Catholic community donated generously to the restoration project," he said. (The LDS Church and the Episcopal Diocese were among those who gave financial assistance to the project.) Cardinal Mahony mentioned that only one of four co-chairmen of the fund-raising team, Jack W. Gallivan, is Catholic and half the members of the executive committee are not Catholic. The Latter-day Saint on the fund-raising team was Elder Jon M. Huntsman, regional representative of the Kearns Utah region, who served as a co-chairman of committee. The other two co-chairmen of the committee were Ian M. Cumming and Richard W. Kieffer.

"There's a sense of common ownership in the faith community in Salt Lake," Cardinal Mahony said. "I was very impressed with the extent of participation." He referred to the restoration project's theme, "A Cathedral for All People," as he noted that the edifice "belongs to the community."

"I think it's very striking in the community to have prominent religious structures," he said. He spoke of a new sports arena in Salt Lake City, and said it is "dwarfed" by the Salt Lake Temple and the Cathedral of the Madeleine. The presence of such buildings, he noted, shows the values of the relationship with divinity in Salt Lake City. He said the temple and the cathedral stand for "wonderful symbols of value and a sense of hope for the future. . . ."

Cardinal Mahony continued: "Very much like the great nearby Mormon temple, the Cathedral of the Madeleine is reflected on the horizon as a beacon of hope to all, as a testament to the presence of God in our midst, and as a vibrant sign of welcome to all on life's journeys."

Gov. Leavitt issued a proclamation stating that the Cathedral of the Madeleine is considered an important architectural, artistic and historic treasure in the state of Utah.

Restoration work on the Cathedral of the Madeleine began two years ago. Catholic Church officials expect the building will be open on a regular basis by the latter part of March, when all the restoration work is scheduled to be completed.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed