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Cathedral's National Museum shuts down

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 by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Aside from the sudden removal of Monsignor James Benavente from his duties within the Archdiocese of Agana, also came word about the sudden shutdown of a program he loved dearly.

Vangie Lujan is a volunteer with the Ducle Nombre De Maria Cathedral Basilica National Museum she made an urgent plea Sunday morning on our KUAM News Facebook page urging people to visit the Hagatna facility before it shutdown that afternoon. "This is a project very dear to Monsignor James and this was his vision and I wanted to make sure that his vision and all the work and love that was put into it people can share with out and see how beautiful the history of Guam's church is hopefully you'll be able to make it before we close today at 1:30," she said.

As we reported when Archbishop Anthony Apuron removed Monsignor Benavente from his positions within the Archdiocese. He also dissolved the Archdiocesan Development Group, which served as the umbrella organization for the cathedral's gift shop, media ministries and museum.

It was only five months ago a special fundraiser was held at the museum commemorating the unveiling of the cassock of Blessed Diego Luis De San Vitores and the sword that martyred him, a Spanish Era stone water well, a subset of articles that were once under the doting care of Monsignor Oscar Calvo, and the large alloy bell that hung in the cathedral's steeple on the day of Guam's 1941 invasion by imperial Japanese forces.

On Sunday KUAM News received word about the sudden closure after and announcement was made during the 5:30 mass at the cathedral. It was also included in the parish announcements.

Many we spoke with Sunday at the museum were in complete shock. "it's certainly a disappointment I didn't know about the closing of this museum," stated John Martinez. "My roots are Martinez, Calvo, Torres and looking around here gosh a lot of these brings back memories. I'm looking at the walls here and I see my grandmother my great grandmother and it's a whole family root here."

Monica Guzman also visited the Cathedral Museum Sunday before it was closed. She is the chairperson of the Guam Council of Arts and Humanities. "I'm very sad to see that all of this work by volunteers is going to be dismantled and shutdown. With CAHA we had a good relationship with Monsignor Benavente. In trying to put together this museum we used the venue we used the museum as a venue for one of our FESTPAC workshops for visual artists this was in April earlier this year it was right after the first opening so one of the things that we did a this workshop was the do's and don'ts of exhibits and galleries and we're sad because it was a great venue," she said.

Today Archdiocese spokesperson Father Adrian Cristobal addressed the concerns of the island's Catholic community saying the museum's closure is only temporary. He added Monsignor David Quitugua is overseeing the transition, noting, "And in this change of administration Monsignor David desires that the persons that are you know involved with volunteering helping managing the museum that everything is order and that the transition process be taking place in such a way that we can assure that it will be open again and to assure to the public that the administration will be taking care of these things the new administration."

Father Adrian could not say how long the process would take and when the museum would reopen. 
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