By Paul Dobbyn
FOR Alexis Bukuru becoming a guide and welcomer at St Stephen’s Cathedral has been a wonderful gift, so much so that he wants to take the idea back to his home in Burundi, Africa.
“I have been in many cathedrals in my home country, but this was the first time I’ve seen a cathedral organise such an activity,” he said.
“I’ve told my trainers that this idea must be one of the gifts I take back home when I return to Africa.
“The course has also been a way to improve my English and have something to do with the local Christian community.”
Mr Bukuru, living in Brisbane and studying international relations at Griffith University, was one of 10 people who graduated as guides and welcomers to the cathedral on July 17.
The group attended a morning Mass and then joined in a graduation ceremony presided over by St Stephen’s dean Fr David Pascoe afterwards.
Guides and welcomers education officer Dr Barbara Reynolds-Hutchinson said this year’s group, the fourth of its kind, had brought an even greater diversity of cultures, languages and skills to the latest course.
“Languages spoken by participants included Kirundi (the language of Burundi), French, Chinese and Polish,” she said.
One of the graduates Rosemary Fraser has a Fine Arts degree and is a guide at the Queensland Art Gallery.
She recommended the course unreservedly.
“It has nourished my intellect and nourished my soul,” she said.
Christine Lindsay has a Bachelor of Theology degree and is very comfortable working with people from her role at a Brisbane hospital.
“During the course I have heard speakers talk about the cathedral as having ‘living stones’,” she said.
“The training team have certainly brought these stones alive for us.
“I hope as a guide that I can bring the community story about the cathedral alive for people.”
Rita Wong was looking for a way to contribute to the Church when she joined the course.
It’s her first time doing such volunteer work.
“Barbara (Reynolds-Hutchinson) actually told us that we have been called to use our gifts – this made me realise that I had some gift I can serve God with,” she said.
“It’s very satisfying to be able to do this and increase my knowledge of St Stephen’s Cathedral and my Catholic faith at the same time.”
Brisbane’s G20 in November this year meant the demand for guides and welcomers would be greater than ever, Dr Reynolds-Hutchinson said.
“Thousands of international delegates, journalists and visitors will be coming to Brisbane in the lead-up to G20 and of course St Stephen’s Cathedral will attract many people,” she said.
The five-week St Stephen’s Cathedral guides and welcomers course includes the history of the cathedral precinct and an understanding of the significance and meaning of the art works and windows.
The course also includes extensive practical work gaining skills needed to attend to visitors as guides or welcomers.
Talks from experienced lecturers such as archdiocesan archivist Fr Denis Martin and Liturgy Brisbane director Fr Tom Elich as well as members of the training team are also held.
The next full training program is next year, although interim training courses are held as required for those keen to start.
Anyone interested in becoming a guide or welcomer can contact the cathedral office on (07) 3336 9111.