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St Stephen’s Cathedral Guides and Welcomers ushered in a year like no other

Guiding the way: Genevieve Cavanagh, Mike Garrett and Reem Haddad made up the new cohort of St Stephen’s Cathedral Guides and Welcomers inducted and blessed at a Mass last Thursday.

SAINT Stephen’s Cathedral Guides and Welcomers were the ones who ticked off contact tracing information, restocked hand-sanitisers, observed social distancing requirements and did it day in, day out for months at Brisbane’s most-visited church.

For Reem Haddad, Mike Garrett and Genevieve Cavanagh – this was their first year on the job.

Cathedral Guides and Welcomers chair Dr Barbara Reynolds-Hutchinson said she was proud of the way the welcomers had taken the extra responsibilities of the pandemic requirements on board, especially during their first year.

The three new welcomers were inducted at a Mass celebrated by Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge at St Stephen’s Cathedral last Thursday.

Archbishop Coleridge said the ministry of hospitality undertaken by the guides and welcomers was important to the life of the cathedral.

Despite receiving their official induction last week, the welcomers had been ticking off contact tracing information and guiding tourists around the cathedral for months.

Ms Haddad said she 2020 had been “a year of changes for many people around the world and for me as well”.

“I’ve met a lot of great people here (at the cathedral)… and I learned a lot from the knowledge and experiences and stories,” she said.

“They filled my heart with a lot of hope and peace and love.”

Mr Garrett said the pandemic had affected how the guides and welcomers had trained, which was done via Zoom.

“It’s been challenging but it’s been good; we’re in a good community,” Mr Garrett said.

“We’ve joined a great group of guides and welcomers – they do a great service for the cathedral.”

He said he had enjoyed learning about the history of his faith.

“I’ve learned a lot about my own religion and the history St Stephen’s and that’s been an awakening for me for my inner strength and religious faith,” Mr Garrett said.

“It’s about being giving back to the community in being a welcomer and a guide – that’s why I do it.”

The pandemic had hit Ms Cavanagh in a personal way.

She said because of her age and with her visiting her husband in a nursing home every day, she was unable to volunteer as often as she would like.

“But I’m hoping that’s all going to change for 2021.”

Ms Cavanagh said her favourite part of the cathedral precinct was St Stephen’s Chapel, which she said would “make a main feature of my tour guiding”.

“We’re so blessed to have such a magnificent cathedral and I hope that I will live up to the expectations of all the other tour guides and leaders and build on my knowledge,” she said.

Dr Reynolds-Hutchinson and the three new volunteers urged anyone who had the time and the desire to learn to step forward to volunteer for the guides.

Contact Carmel Devery at the Cathedral office on 3324 3030 or e-mail  deveryc@bne.catholic.net.au  if you would like to learn more about this mission.

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