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Parties: Roaring Success

Written by Catherine Bigelow | Photography by Drew Altizer

Each year, Grace Cathedral chooses an overall theme reflected in its innovative ministry, art, social justice, wellness and education programs. Now, as COVID and indoor masking take a reprieve, Grace has fully reopened. And 2022 is deemed the “Year of Connection.”

That motif of reconnecting was heralded on March 1 when the Gothic beauty celebrated the in-person return of its vaunted Carnivale fundraiser. Gala chairman Clement Xue, a cathedral trustee, organized the event, billed as a “1920s Mardi Gras for the Modern Era.”

“1920 was the historic groundbreaking of Grace Cathedral. And Grace continues to break new ground with bold stances on social justice issues and engaging a diverse online community,” toasted Xue. “This vital fundraiser supports that mission in building bridges and breaking barriers.”

Nearly 250 guests raised a heavenly $500K in support of those programs. Dapper auctioneer LiamMayclem led the live auction, joined by emcee Betty Yu, a KPIX-TV journalist. Xue also designed the event as a hybrid for the soiree-shy. Whether online or in person, supporters — some decked in boas and sequined flapper gowns — supped on a McCalls three-course dinner via home-delivered boxes or atop festive tables set in the glorious Grace nave.

“I have such gratitude for Clement and our team, returning Carnivale with this special theme,” noted the Rt. Rev. Dr. Marc Handley Andrus, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California. “The Roaring Twenties were roaring because it was a return from the global devastation of World War I. We, again, live in difficult times. But this event inspires courage, hope and compassion for our future.”

The public reopening of Grace includes Lee Mingwei as its 2022 artist-in-residence. Along with Sunday services, this exquisite stone sanctuary — of soaring arches, Interfaith AIDS Memorial Chapel, a mighty Aeolian-Skinner organ, arts programs and sublime stainedglass windows — is providing ticketed tours Monday through Saturday. And Grace’s vaunted Yoga on the Labyrinth is back in biz, with online reservations.

“Grace is home for everyone,” enthused cathedral dean, the Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young. “No matter your faith, nationality, race or age.”

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