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Behind the Scenes: Climbing up inside the spires at St. Joseph Cathedral

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 5:50 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - One of the first identifying landmarks on the Sioux Falls Horizon is the St. Joseph Cathedral on Duluth Avenue. In our Behind the Scenes series, we show you what it’s like to climb up to the top, inside the spires, and the majestic view from the top.

Before our climb, Father James P. Morgan, St. Joseph Cathedral Rector gave us a blessing.

Although I knew going to the top likely wasn’t for me and stopped after the first 15 foot ladder, photojournalist Shane Trail made it to the top.

“The Cathedral is open to anyone who wants to come in and have a sense of faith, hope, love, peace, joy,” said Father Morgan. Very much a civic landmark too.”

The beauty of the Cathedral offers inspiring views both inside and out. The crowning jewel is the two spires touching the sky. The pattern was created to look like a head of grain, to honor the farmers in the community.

“The byzantine windows on the spires are magnificent. That’s all original. That’s all original work,” said Father Morgan.

Construction began in 1917, was put on hold during World War One, and completed in May 1919.

“And remember, there were no cranes back in those days, it was all block and tackle to build this Cathedral,” said Father Morgan.

There is another place of beauty above, only a few can see...inside the spires of the Cathedral. Parishioner Dan Boyum is taking his son Max, Daughters Olivia, and Eva, along with their friends Maren and Jordan on a journey to the top.

“It is so prevalent on the skyline, you can see it from everywhere,” said Dan Boyum.

“The reason why Cathedrals are so big as it’s trying to mimic this heavenly type image,” said Max Boyum.

After making it to the top, they rang the church bell.

When they heard the bells they would pause, and pray,” said Father Morgan.

After enjoying the views and taking some group photos, it was time to make the descent.

“Down was way easier. Both from just nerves and shakiness and at that point,” said Dan. “I’d already seen the scariest part so every step down was a little bit safer.”

Whether you see the spires from downtown to miles away, their towering presence is there as a reminder.

“Bishop Dudley talked about is making certain that the Cathedral was lit at night,” said Dan. “With the prisoners across the street in jail that, that it is a symbol of hope, a beacon of hope for them. And that’s not only for that but for all the citizens of the city.”

The Cathedral is more than a building, it’s an anchor for the soul.

“It’s a permanent part of who I am,” said Dan. “And it’s cool to have this building kind of walking along with me.”

All are welcome to walk through the doors and view the ornate beauty of the Cathedral. Mass is at 6:45 am and noon weekdays, Saturday at 9:00 am and 4:00 pm, and Sundays at 7:30 am, 9:15 am, 11:00 am and Sunday afternoon at 4:00 pm.

“To create greater unity, the diversity, and universality that we have here at the Cathedral. So it’s a welcoming home for everyone,” said Father Morgan. “There are many times at this, this Cathedral on any given Sunday can be filled with people from all over the place, not just the United States but from all over the world.”

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