At St. James Cathedral, Laughlin coordinate the more than 1,200 worship services each year, making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time, wearing the right vesture and reading the right reading.
What do you do? I am the director of liturgy for St. James Cathedral, Seattle’s Roman Catholic Cathedral. I coordinate the worship services (more than 1,200 each year), making sure everyone is in the right place at the right time, wearing the right vesture and reading the right reading. In addition to the clergy, several hundred lay volunteers are involved in the liturgy each week, so it is a big job.
How did you get started in that field? I studied English in college and had every intention of teaching English. But when I started volunteering to assist with Cathedral liturgies, I found it so rewarding that one thing led to another, and soon I was on staff! The English major in me loves that I am still surrounded by words — Scriptures, hymns, homilies and prayers. I have been working here for 16 years now.
What’s a typical day like? No two days are the same. I might spend the morning swinging the incense at a funeral Mass, then head back to my desk to prepare for Sunday, and in the afternoon train a new volunteer, write an article for the parish bulletin, lead a tour of the Cathedral, curate an art exhibit in the Chapel, or meet with a group of interesting people to plan a special event. Over the years, we’ve welcomed cardinals and bishops, rabbis, imams, ministers from other Christian traditions, fire department chaplains, and even the crown prince of Belgium!
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What’s the best part of the job? I love being part of a tradition that goes back two thousand years. I love working in our beautiful, century-old cathedral church. I love our diverse parish community, our parish staff, and our amazing pastor, Father Michael G. Ryan. I also love planning processions — it is as close as I will ever get to being a choreographer!
What surprises people about your work? People are surprised that the job exists — there are not very many people who get to do liturgy full time. People think of church jobs as quiet, peaceful and dull, but they are more often busy, intense, fascinating and meaningful. I think people are surprised how creative this work can be.
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