Our Building Project: Part I - Identity
Edwin and Martin Rambusch are twin brothers. But the work of the company usually takes them in slightly different directions. “I do lots of lighting design projects. I rarely work with church projects. That’s Martin,” says Edwin. Jokes are made about the religiosity of the brothers, who received their Catholic faith from a New Jersey upbringing.
While Martin tends to take the lead on liturgical projects, they share conclusions and convictions about the nature of work in church renovation and construction. At a lunch with some of the Cathedral staff on October 15, the Rambusch brothers get to the heart of how they see their role and the role of church teams in a building project.
Martin says that the best projects are the fruit of thoughtful dialogue. “We are raisers of questions and then mediators working to help folks to reach a common goal.”
“What’s exciting about your project is that not only are you looking at what the project can be as a physical construction. But also you see it’s an opportunity to revisit and clarify your approach to what it means to be evangelical, communal, etc.”
Edwin agrees. The conversation shifts to the task of a cathedral parish trying to discover its identity. He sees particular difficulty in this. “[Identity] is a struggle present at every cathedral in America. Most cathedrals are just now asking these questions or simply are unsure.”
“This is a conversation about the nature of the Church going forward. This is about [building something] with the talents of the people in-house,” says Martin. He’s seen parishes take different approaches in living out who they are meant to be in a community. “[You] find what’s important about the Church [in that neighborhood] - not just a message.”
A staff member takes a moment to lament the frequency of disconnect between words and actions.
“Right,” says Martin. Integrity is everything. “A church has to ask how are we nourishing, flourishing, educating?”
We discuss church-y platitudes like ‘all are welcome’. “[Integrity] means helping everyone be welcome when they’re not all the same,” Edwin says.
The Cathedral of St. James in Seattle comes up as a place where ideals are lived. Martin and Edwin speak highly of the rector there, Fr. Mike Ryan. “When he says all are welcome, it’s not just ‘all the ones I want.’ And he takes the midnight shift,” says Martin, referring to the cathedral there being a literal 24-hour sanctuary for anyone in need. Refuge seekers include homeless individuals, people with illness mental illness, and folks seeking immigration-related legal representation.
The beauty of that kind of unconditional integrity gives us pause. Everyone at the table is still for a moment. Then we turn to reflect again on our own parish.
“[Identity] is not an easy question to answer, but it’s great that you’re looking,” Edwin says to us.
We Cathedral staff members respond by pointing out the features and emphases of our community: Sacred Heart Cathedral School, hospitality, adult faith formation, and a revitalized neighborhood.
Then the light bulb clicks. We remember the simple, developing mantra to which we aspire.
This is the first entry in a series about the unfolding plans for the Cathedral campus.
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About: The Rambusch Company
Headquartered in New York and New Jersey, the Ramusch Company has been contracted to manage the art and liturgical design of the Cathedral church renovation.