Multiple ministries benefit from those who donate their time to help Cathedral function.Dan Grove loves volunteering at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels — and he is not even a California resident.The U.S. Army soldier — a former Los Angeles resident — is currently stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, after being deployed in Iraq and Kuwait for 18 months. On leave in August, he took a few days to volunteer at the Cathedral, something he had done previously and enjoyed immensely.For his loyalty, availability and service, he was selected “Volunteer of the Month” by the Cathedral’s Office of Volunteer Services and Tours, a ceremony often led by Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik, pastor.During the past five years, the office director has been Margaret Chirivella, an archeologist, historian and Catholic convert who trained with the Peace Corps at a young age, and who still occasionally volunteers as a tour guide.Before getting hired to the position, Chirivella herself received a certificate for her hours dedicated to serving people who visited the Cathedral, even before it was officially opened in 2002. Another former volunteer of the month is Beatrice “Bea” Martinez, Chirivella’s assistant or “left and right hand,” who each day at noon fills in for the Cathedral receptionist during lunch break. But for these two married grandmothers, volunteering is nothing new. Each had accrued many hours of selfless service at their parishes, St. Bede the Venerable in La Ca√±ada (Chirivella) and Our Lady of Guadalupe in El Sereno (Martinez), on top of their obligations to their husbands, children and paying jobs.At the beginning they both were volunteers and did tours. “Obviously we love what we do!” they said in unison.It is that sense of stability and commitment they have managed to imprint on the volunteer program, a “backbone” of the Cathedral’s service to the Catholic community and to the general public.“The Cathedral wouldn’t run without this program,” said Chirivella, adding that more volunteers are needed and welcomed. Opportunities include community outreach to support homeless and recent immigrants; education outreach to train tour volunteers, lecturers and docents; administrative services (like clerical assistants, computer experts, receptionists and gift shop volunteers); and liturgical ministers (greeters, ushers, Eucharistic Ministers, lectors, choir members and sacristans).Safety is another concern for Msgr. Kostelnik. Thus, Chirivella coordinates VIRTUS training and education for every volunteer with the archdiocesan office of Safeguard the Children. All potential volunteers, religious and laity, have to go through a background screening and complete Safeguard training.“It is important to us to set an example to all parishes to have the required training for the safety of our children,” Chirivella emphasized.Currently, there are 513 active volunteers serving in the different ministries, who hail from all walks of life and mainly from Southern California, from Kern County to downtown neighborhoods.The office also outreaches to schools — Catholic and non-Catholic — inviting faculty, staff and students to visit the facility and learn about its history and the Catholic faith. Between January and July of this year, about 44,000 students toured the Cathedral. The program is not set up for students to do community service hours that some curricula require, but they are invited to offer support, especially during weekend Masses.Chirivella tries to find the best place for each volunteer who applies, though “not everybody is suitable,” she explained. Most volunteers are needed at least four flexible hours during weekdays, one reason that about 50 percent of Cathedral volunteers are retirees. In October the volunteer office will hold its annual party for volunteers, a moment to “celebrate and honor them,” said Chirivella.Juvencio Segura, a native of Guadalajara who’s been serving as a tour guide for Spanish speakers since 2003 volunteers two to three hours of his time on Wednesdays and Fridays.“Since I was a kid I’ve liked helping others,” said the St. Dominic’s (Eagle Rock) Eucharistic minister and retired teacher, who quipped, “I’m a teacher, so I like to learn and do the talking.” Because tour guides must study the Cathedral’s history in order to provide accurate information to the public, Chirivella and Martinez have prepared a script used by tour guides, who sprinkle their speeches with their own personality traits.“It’s the first time I’ve ever been in a Catholic Church and I’m enjoying the explanation — and I love the acoustics,” said Jack Booze, while he pushed the wheelchair of his wife Betty; both are in the senior ministry at Tehachapi’s Assembly of God Church.“I’m a retired builder, so I know about this,” he continued. Meanwhile, fellow seniors listened attentively as Grove explained the symbolism behind the Cathedral art pieces, then leaned down to check the four bronze angels adorning the base of the altar, designed by artist Mary Louise Snowden.“I really like the atmosphere at the Cathedral,” said longtime volunteer Marjorie Barrett, who volunteers four hours one day a week, helping with volunteers’ data base and guiding tours for younger children. “I like the modernity of the church environment.”In fact, the training for tour guides helped Barrett learn more of the message behind Catholic traditions and symbols, and made her appreciate and value Catholicism even more. “And meeting the artists who come here has also been an inspiration,” noted the retired Citi Group finance broker. She is further inspired by guiding children in tours. “They ask questions that seem simple, but make you pause to think why we do this.”For more information about volunteer services at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, contact Margaret Chirivella, (213) 680-5215 or [email protected]. The volunteer office is accepting donations of software to replace outdated software used to keep track of volunteers, and is seeking sponsors to transport inner-city students to guided tours at the Cathedral.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0831/volunteers/{/gallery}