Post 144

The Show Mustn't Go On: Reflections on
Turning the Basilica into a Concert Hall

They’re making St. Joseph’s Basilica into a concert hall, by the looks of it.

You thought it was a place of worship.

I guess it is.


Sometimes, it’s not.

Sometimes, you pay $30 to get in. ($20 for seniors.)


Father Martin Carroll, Basilica Rector, you should be ashamed.

Mary-Ann Provençal, Basilica Manager, you should be ashamed.

Everyone else who has approved this, you should be ashamed.

You should be unhappy and feel sad that the Basilica will be thus disgraced.

Let me reprint, from the Basilica’s bulletin, what has been planned and pronounced as Rather Great:

Be sure to join us for the third concert in our Festival of Sacred Music series.

Exultate Deo: Sacred music from five centuries presented by CHRONOS Vocal Ensemble; Jordan Van Biert, director.

Beautiful a cappella music by Purcell, Bach, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Poulenac, Whitacre and Canadian composers King, Togni, Worthington and Enns.

Winners of the 2015 Healy Willan Prize in the National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs, CHRONOS Vocal Ensemble finish their tour of the Canadian prairies with a programme of music taken from their debut recording. Do not miss this exciting homecoming concert in the beautiful acoustics of St. Joseph’s Basilica!

To purchase tickets, please visit: or call 780-420-1757.

Adults $30 / Students & Seniors $20 / under 16 FREE.

Tickets will be available at the door (cash/cheque only).

Note: tickets are NOT available from the Basilica Office.

What is going on?


To get into the sanctuary of the Basilica?

Since when?

Since 2014? (Third annual, it says.)

People are encouraged to come to the Basilica for what?

No, it’s not for a Mass – good guess, but no.

No, it’s not for Eucharistic adoration – not that.

No, it’s something different.

Please bring your cash.

Oh yuck.

People are encouraged to come to the Basilica because it has

Because it has

Because it has




How much per ticket, Father?

You are selling (or allowing to be sold) to your parishioners (and anybody else)

Access to the pews?

So they can listen to a show?

So they can take in a Concert?

I don’t care what you call it.
I don’t care if you call it a Festival of Sacred Music.
I don’t care if you call it Exultate Deo: Festival of Sacred Music (adding Latin changes nothing)
I don’t care if the Performers have won one prize or forty.
I don’t care if the Performers are finishing some tour or starting it.
I don’t care if the concert is going to be “exciting.”
I don’t care if the Performers are going to sing with musical accompaniment or a cappella

I really don’t care.

But I do care where.

I care where they perform.

And I ask,


The Basilica ain’t the Winspear.

The Basilica ain’t the Jubilee.

The Basilica ain’t the Edmonton Coliseum.

So listen, CHRONOS (by the way, why all caps?)

You shouldn’t be there.

Them pews aren’t for sale.

Don’t sell them.

And Father, was your decision “based on careful discernment” of the “various parish and archdiocesan policies that exist, including but not limited to:

Policy No. 1104 Groups, Associations and Movements
Policy No. 233 Facility Usage
Policy No. 361 Volunteer Management
Policy No. 354-360 Safe Environments and Abuse”

Was it?

Or do you refer to all these policies only when you turn away lay people who make a request to use the BASEMENT for a nativity play?

I came to you with no history of winning the 2015 Healy Willan Prize in the National Competition for Canadian Amateur Choirs.

No, I didn’t have that.

Too bad, eh?

Maybe that would have made a difference.

Or perhaps I didn’t ask for the right space.

I asked for the basement, called O’Leary Hall.

– the place where movies are shown (Bulletin says, “MOVIE MATINEE: TODAY, Sunday, June 12th At 1:30 pm in O’Leary Hall, Edith Stein – The Seventh Chamber etc etc”)

– the place where there shall apparently be, on Tuesday, June 28 “a welcome reception.” Look what it says: “This event is open to all, but particularly to the priests, sponsorship committee members and refugees from the sponsoring parishes.” Cough cough GAG. Excuse me? “open to all BUT PARTICULARLY TO SOME?” Incredible. Orwell couldn’t top that, because he was writing fiction where the animal (wasn’t it a pig?) said “some are more equal than others.” This is for real – this is composed with a straight face by some Catholic parish worker. “Welcome” indeed! The priests are welcome. The committee people are welcome. The refugees are welcome. As for the others, well,

Not so much

(As they say.)

But anyway, back to the double standard,

I guess I should have asked for the sanctuary itself.

Silly me.

I thought that the sanctuary was meant for Masses and liturgical events. I thought that it was Quite a Big Deal when you use a Catholic Church for anything else. I thought that when you temporarily take over a church, for any non-liturgical thing, then there’s a proper procedure, involving prayers, relocating Christ’s Body and Blood and covering the altar and other things and so on and so forth, both before and after the non-liturgical use. I thought it was Quite a Big Deal, and therefore, something to be done only in the rarest of cases when no alternative can be found.

But apparently not.

I guess I am mistaken, again.

(Lay person – what do I know?)


I better join you in spreading the word:

Sanctuary for sale! Sanctuary for sale!

Read all about it, last several bulletins (and prob’ly online)!

Sanctuary for sale! Sanctuary for sale!

“Beautiful acoustics!”

“Be sure to join us!”

Get yer pew now!



What a disgrace.

Jesus will hide his face.

While you desecrate.

Des-e-crate: To abuse the sacredeness of: subject to sacrilege; profane