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CURRENT ISSUE:  August 10, 2009
VOL. 47, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Catholic leaders urge health care reform
Agency directors lament ripping of state’s safety net
Couple weds at cathedral
they helped build
The newly married Noemi and Dan Burkett leave Oakland’s Cathedral of Christ the Light at the conclusion of their wedding.
José Luis Aguirre photo

Together, they helped build the Cathedral of Christ the Light. Now they are beginning to build a marriage. On July 11, carpenters Dan Burkett and Noemi De Alba pronounced their wedding vows in the Oakland cathedral, presided by Father Ray Breton.

Burkett, 39, proposed to De Alba, 31, last December as they stood in the circle between the two quietly-singing waterfalls embedded in the entry wall of the cathedral mausoleum.

“I was turning around, and I saw him on his knees,” said De Alba. “I couldn’t believe it because I didn’t have a clue that he was going to propose. I started shaking and I couldn’t give him my hand. He grabbed it, held it and asked, ‘Will you marry me?’

“I just said ‘yes.’ Then he got up to give me a kiss and a hug. I couldn’t stop smiling. It was really great.”

The couple met four years ago during a San Francisco building project when De Alba, an apprentice carpenter, was assigned to work with Burkett, an experienced craftsman employed by Webcor. Both were in other relationships at the time.

They became part of the Cathedral project after Webcor was awarded the construction job. As the structure emerged from a former parking lot, they worked side by side, day by day. “We became good friends and two years later he asked me out,” said De Alba.

During their work and subsequent courtship, the two talked about a myriad of topics, including religion. Burkett, a non-Catholic and a third-generation carpenter, learned the meaning of many liturgical symbols from De Alba, a lifelong Catholic and native of Jalisco, Mexico, who came to the United States with her family when she was 16.

De Alba also told him about the Mass, and when they became engaged, its significance stuck with him. He readily agreed to proclaim their vows in the cathedral, said De Alba.

The bride credits divine intervention for bringing them together.

“I do believe God’s hands were on this. We both used our hands and minds to be part of such a beautiful place, and now we can be blessed in our marriage and work so that our union is as strong as the cathedral’s concrete.”

Mr. and Mrs. Burkett will make their home in the Central Valley city of Riverbank.

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