Catholic Diocese Announces Plans for New Cathedral

Catholic Diocese Announces Plans for New Cathedral

(Raleigh) — The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, has announced the planned construction of a new Cathedral Campus for the Diocese of Raleigh. In making the official announcement on Wednesday, September 7, 2011, Bishop Burbidge said the proposed 2,000-seat Cathedral will be dedicated under the title, Holy Name of Jesus. The estimated cost of the proposed Cathedral Campus is $75 to $90 million.

The conceptual design includes the Cathedral, a two-story Gathering Hall and a three-story ground level and below-ground parking facility. To date, the planned project has received $15 million in pledges from a small group of donors in a short period of time. (Please note: Since the project is in the conceptual stage, changes could occur in design and cost.)

The proposed Cathedral Campus will be located on a 39-acre tract of land adjacent to Western Boulevard and Centennial Parkway that has historical significance for the Catholic Church in North Carolina. The property is what remains of 400 acres purchased in 1897 by Father Thomas F. Price, the “Tar Heel Apostle” and first native North Carolinian to be ordained a Catholic priest. In 1899, Father Price established an orphanage on the site known as the “Nazareth Community.” The site currently houses the Catholic Center administration building and a smaller building, formerly part of the old Cardinal Gibbons High School, which serves as the Diocesan Tribunal Office.

The title to the new Cathedral, Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, commemorates the name of the chapel established by Father Price at Nazareth.

The need for a new Cathedral is prompted, in large part, by the continuing vibrant growth of the Catholic population throughout the Diocese. In the ten-year period between 2000 and 2010, the Catholic population in the 54-county Diocese has increased approximately 42 percent from 152,493 to 217,125 registered Catholics, with an estimated 200,000 plus unregistered Catholics, mostly of Hispanic origin. With a seating capacity of 320, Sacred Heart Cathedral, as the “Mother Church” of the Diocese, is unable to accommodate most of the Diocesan liturgical celebrations.

Sacred Heart Church was constructed in the early 1920′s as a parish church to serve the small number of Catholics residing in the capital city. In 1924, when the Vatican established the Diocese of Raleigh, the Holy See designated the small church on Hillsborough Street, two blocks from the State Capitol, as the Cathedral.

The concept of building a new Cathedral to address the growing needs of the Diocese began in late 2009. Following consultation with the major Diocesan collegial bodies, composed of the clergy, Consecrated Religious and laity, Bishop Burbidge accepted their recommendation to commission a feasibility study to explore interest and support for the proposed project. The study, conducted by a professional consulting firm, was undertaken in early 2010.

In July, 2010, results of the feasibility study indicated a high level of support for the project from clergy, religious and laity. The study involved approximately 200 personal interviews and almost 2,500 mail surveys with a strong response rate of thirty percent.

After reviewing results of the study, the Diocesan collegial bodies, in separate votes, recommended to Bishop Burbidge that the Diocese proceed to the next step of the project. Bishop Burbidge accepted the recommendations of these bodies and established a Cathedral Campus Steering Committee with five sub-committees, each with a specific task to review the many aspects of the proposed project and to establish a set of policies and guidelines if the project was to be undertaken.

In July, 2011, after careful review of the work of the Steering Committee and following consultation with local civic and business leaders about possible sites in downtown Raleigh where the proposed Cathedral Campus could be located, Bishop Burbidge accepted the recommendation of the Diocesan collegial bodies to proceed with the planned construction on the Nazareth site, already owned by the Diocese of Raleigh. The Diocese has contracted with Washington, D.C. architect Mr. James McCrery to develop the Cathedral design and to propose the most effective utilization of the land for the Gathering Hall, parking facilities and possible additional development of the site.

Groundbreaking for the new Cathedral Campus is anticipated to take place as soon as funding development and committed pledges have reached the required amounts as stipulated in Diocesan policies for all building projects.