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Friends of the Cathedral

Friends of the Cathedral at CCAS

There is support in the Cathedral congregation for the formation of a Friends of the Cathedral Foundation for All Saints, modeled on similar Foundations for Cathedrals in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. A key focus of such a Foundation would be to continue the mandate of the former Cathedral League, that of beautifying the Cathedral.

The former Cathedral League had a 102 year history and in that time much was accomplished to furnish and beautify the interior of the Cathedral. As a Friends of the Cathedral gets underway, it can draw on the example and legacy of the former Cathedral League for inspiration. It all began before the Cathedral officially opened in 1910…

The women of the Church are ever to the fore in every good work… No parish or mission can afford not to give its women their share, even if their means make it of necessity a small share, in the work of building our great Cathedral to the honor and glory of God.

The Cathedral and the Women of the Church, Church Work,

Halifax, N.S. April 22, 1909.

So wrote A.M. Payne in an edition of the Church Work dedicated to telling the story of All Saints Cathedral and our oldest colonial diocese. Payne was commenting on the incredible fundraising efforts of the then year-old Diocesan Women’s Cathedral League for the procurement of the magnificent Casavant Freres pipe organ for the Cathedral: The ladies of the League are determined not to allow the interest to flag nor to relax in their efforts until the whole of the required amount is raised” (p.8). Such was their success that the organ was played for the Cathedral’s opening service on September 10, 1910. Donations for this first gift to the Cathedral of the Diocesan Women’s Cathedral League came from the various parishes in the Diocese, while the first fundraiser that the Cathedral League undertook as a diocesan organization was a Tea and Sale in 1909 that yielded $1,648. This was to become an annual event and its proceeds, combined with other diocesan and individual donations, ensured a total of $10,362 in the Organ Fund by 1911.

However, the Diocesan Women’s Cathedral League did not stop there. Inspired by the Cathedral Prayer:

O God, the strength of all that put their trust in Thee, mercifully accept our prayers, and grant us the help of Thy grace, that we who desire to raise a Cathedral for this diocese to the glory of Thy great name, the honor of Thy holy church and the welfare of Thy people, may be blessed in our endeavour, and enabled to bring it to perfection, through Him who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The officers of the Diocesan Women’s Cathedral League were happy to address the members of the Church of England in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in 1918 at the Diocesan Synod regarding the National Memorial Window to commemorate all Nova Scotians and Prince Edward Islanders who have made the supreme sacrifice for their God, their King and their Country. Not wishing to press the matter unduly, the League officersreminded their audience that the aim was to have the window erected and, if possible, unveiled at the great National Thanksgiving Service to be held in the Cathedral when peace has been finally declared. The tireless work of the Diocesan Women’s Cathedral League resulted in the Great Window above the high altar being unveiled on the Patronal Festival, All Saints’ Day, in 1921.

More diligent work on the part of Cathedral League members went into the compilation of the Book of Remembrance, housed in a glass case in the Cathedral. As the names for this book were unavailable from Ottawa, the compilation work involved writing to newspapers in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. By 1925, 1,002 names had been collected. The League officers noted the national nature of this undertaking and confirmed that no one, whatever his faith, [would] be excluded from the list of heroes.
More gifts from the Cathedral League followed: the richly carved oak Reredos or Screen at the high altar, the Clerestory Window on the north side of the organ depicting the Ascension, the Altar Rail, Credence Table, Bronze Tablets commemorating the Bishops and Deans of Nova Scotia, Furnishings for St. Stephen’s Chapel, and Vestments for the clergy. By the time the CathedralLeague celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1958, it had contributed gifts valued at over $82,000 to the Cathedral.

The Diocesan Women’s Cathedral League was founded in 1908, while the construction of the Cathedral was underway, as a diocesan organization, with representatives from the various parishes. The Prayer of the Diocesan Women’s Cathedral League, while reflecting a sensibility of a century ago, carries a timeless entreaty:

O God, who dwellest invisible in the heavens, and yet for the salvation of men dost manifest Thy power upon the earth, pour down on the Cathedral the light of Thy Countenance and grant that all who enter it to seek Thy Face may attain the satisfaction of Thy merciful love. Amen.

It is later in the history of the diocese that the League ceased to be a diocesan organization, coming instead under the umbrella of the Cathedral Anglican Church Women as one of the Cathedral Women’s Groups. The Cathedral League’s mandate has been one of beautifying the interior of the magnificent stone English Gothic structure that we know as the Cathedral Church of All Saints. 

Despite changing circumstances and a shrinking membership, the Cathedral League stayed true to its mandate to beautify the Cathedral. Money in more recent years was raised through such activities as monthly dues, bake sales, and an annual mini auction. Bequests from deceased members enabled the Cathedral League to make several major gifts. In the late 1990’s, the Cathedral League presented Four Vestments in Liturgical Colours, donated $5,000 towards the Organ Restoration Fund, and contributed to a Sound System for the Cathedral. Brass Plates depicting the Names of the Saints featured in the windows in the north and south aisles, another gift of the Cathedral League, are currently in storage, in anticipation of soon being repositioned.

The members of the former Cathedral League are pleased to know that their organization’s mandate will continue into the next 100 years and beyond with a Friends of the Cathedral Foundation for the Cathedral Church of All Saints.

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