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The grand opening for a new Deseret Industries facility was held Thursday, April 20. Bishop Gérald Caussé, Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, dedicated the new building in a ceremony the previous evening.
Bishop Caussé remarked on the exciting year Cedar City is having with a new welfare complex and a new Mormon temple set to open this fall. “The new temple, where the glorious plan of salvation will be taught, and this new welfare facility, where many will find healing and deliverance from a variety of challenges and afflictions, are both central to the mission of the Savior and His Church,” he said.
Bishop Caussé explained that the small southern Utah town is significant beyond its size. “It attracts thousands of visitors every year because of its scenic beauty and its celebration of the arts.” He described himself as “a lover of great art and literature.” Cedar City is renowned for its Shakespeare festival held each year. Bishop Caussé used several literary figures to stress the importance of welfare, such as Edgar, a young nobleman from Shakespeare’s tragedy “King Lear.” In the play, Edgar is forced to flee his lavish home and live a life of poverty.
Recounting the story of Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s book “Les Misérables,” Bishop Caussé recalled a painting in his office that depicts the scene of the bishop of Digne presenting Valjean with two silver candlesticks. It’s a strong act of mercy and compassion because the bishop had just caught Valjean trying to steal a basket of silverware. Comparing these stories to us he said:
This new welfare facility will become the stage upon which these classic stories will be reenacted in real life and with real children of our Father in Heaven. Like Edgar of “King Lear,” many men and women will come to Deseret Industries or LDS Family Services in the midst of some of their greatest personal challenges.
Some, also like Edgar, may come as a result of mistreatment or neglect by those who should have been their protectors. When they arrive, they may have forgotten — or possibly have never realized — that they have a noble birthright and heritage as children of an exalted Father. Through the intervention of caring job coaches, development counselors, or LDS Family Services counselors, they will rediscover — or perhaps discover for the first time — their divine potential.
Like Jean Valjean, some may come trying to recover from prolonged hardships, harmful habits, or economic difficulties. Like the bishop of Digne, inspired priesthood and Relief Society leaders will be able to see beyond those challenges and discern each person’s capacity to build a brighter future. By partnering with those who serve in the welfare operations, leaders can help lift these individuals to temporal and spiritual self-reliance, as former thought patterns and behaviors give way to gospel-based practices that facilitate their ability to maintain a livelihood and also to lead a productive and joyful life.
He concluded his remarks by sharing the experience of a newly called bishop of a Mormon congregation. The bishop didn’t think he would find much hardship with people in his middle-class neighborhood. He was soon surprised by the many different temporal difficulties families in his congregation experienced. The bishop relied on resources like Deseret Industries to fill some of their needs by providing clothing, furniture and employment.
“Services that will be provided in this facility contribute in a remarkable way to the real long-term objective of the Church’s welfare plan, which is not just to clothe bodies and furnish homes, but to transform souls — souls who, like Shakespeare’s Edgar, Hugo’s Valjean, or even members of our own wards, may have lost sight of their own worth and capacity,” said Bishop Caussé in closing.
Various local government leaders and faith leaders attended the dedication, including Pastor Jerry Vanlwaarden of the Westview Christian Church and Reverend Lee Montgomery of St. Jude’s Episcopal Church.