Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph’s started the Season of Hope Performance Series in December 1996. SJDA asked Sharon L. Miller, BSN, director, Cathedral Social Ministries, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County to share the history of the series:
“We were very bold, providing three performances a night Dec 1-23 in the early years. Later, we shortened the performances to two per night Dec 8-23, and now Dec 12-23 with one performance a night.
“Bishop Pierre DuMaine wanted the Cathedral to ‘promote the cultural and social works proper to a cathedral church.’ The rich cultural and social heritage embodied in St Joseph Church weighed heavily in the decision to restore and renovate, instead of replacing or abandoning the church. Built as the parish church for a town whose population did not exceed 15,000,The church expressed the vision and vigor of Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who had known a St. Joseph Church as the center of their city since 1803.
“After completion of the renovation of the Cathedral, in the December weeks before Christmas a series of artistic performances was the cathedral’s and the arts community “gift” to the downtown people of San Jose. The gift is rooted in a centuries old tradition of cathedral churches as the cradle of theater, music, and dance. The “gift” of Season of Hope helps restore a bridge between the religious and the cultural life of the community while promoting our charitable work to a vulnerable community in need of free healthcare, a place for the homeless to receive mail, food, employment, shelter, housing and helping those released from incarceration reenter society.
“The Bishop turned to the Music Director, Tony Eiras, Sharon Miller, Director of Social Ministries, Barbara Mount, our Liturgical Director. Tony enlisted the help of Henry Schiro, Director of San Jose Jazz Society. As a team, including the pastor, priests and staff of the Cathedral we created Season of Hope inviting premier performance groups to help us bring the gift of music and culture to everyone whether or not they could afford the experience. We made cultural availability free for everyone and those who can donate to the efforts of our charitable work give a gift that alleviates poverty.
“Some of the artists who still perform with us are San Jose Youth Symphony, San Jose Jazz, San Jose Chamber Youth Orchestra, San Jose State University Choraliers, San Jose Ballet, sometimes San Jose Opera makes a special appearance and the rest of the evenings are filled with other faithful artists. We attempt to invite two new groups a year.
“We really want people to have an enjoyable experience of Downtown San Jose… Christmas in the park, ice skating, dinner, a free concert inside the beautifully restored Cathedral, a home to everyone.
Editor: The Season of Hope Series begins Sunday Dec. 12 and continues through Dec. 23. All shows are free and everyone is welcome.