On Saturday, January 3, 2015, the Memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated the Rite of Blessing and Groundbreaking for Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. The new cathedral, located on ground purchased by Servant of God Father Thomas Price in 1896, is projected to be completed in 2017.
The event was preceded by a press conference in which Bishop Burbidge spoke to the media about the campaign leading up to this day, and his hopes for the future. “We are building a worthy dwelling place for God,” he said, “a home for all the faithful of the Diocese; a beautiful and spacious Church whose doors are opened to all… Above all, we are building a place where the faithful will be enlightened with the Word of God; nourished with the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, and a place where they will leave renewed as members of God’s family sent forth to do His work.”
More than 700 people attended the rite and groundbreaking ceremony, which began in a cruciform-shaped tent erected on the spot where the future cathedral will stand. Mr. Jason D. Curtis, Principal of Cardinal Gibbons High School, gave a presentation detailing the evolution of the Nazareth property since Father Price purchased it. The land has served as the site for, successively, an orphanage, a missionary training center, the old Cardinal Gibbons High School and the Diocesan administrative headquarters.
Among those in attendance were the Honorable Nancy McFarlane, Mayor of Raleigh; the Honorable John Byrne, Mayor of Fuquay Varina; Mr. Eric Lamb, Transportation Planning Manager for the City of Raleigh; and Mr. Charles Leffler, Vice Chancellor of Finance and Business at North Carolina State University. The Bishop was also joined by priests, deacons, and consecrated religious from throughout the Diocese.
A prayer service followed Mr. Curtis’s address, and Bishop Burbidge began the prayers for the Rite of Blessing. In his homily, Bishop Burbidge said, “I cannot help but feel today the presence of Father Price and those who have gone before us. They certainly had to hope and pray for the day that the seeds they planted would produce such abundant faith. We are so privileged to be the people entrusted with this great work.”
The Bishop then recessed out of the tent to bless the entire site with holy water. The crowd meanwhile converged on the groundbreaking site in front of a large cross set on the exact spot where the altar of sacrifice will stand in the future cathedral. Breaking ground with the Bishop were Mr. Tim Mann and Dr. Henry Zaytoun, co-chairs of the Cathedral Committee; Mayor McFarlane; Father Justin Kerber, CP, Rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral; Mr. James O’Brien, the Cathedral architect; Msgr. John Wall; Msgr. Gerald Lewis, Diocesan Archivist; Msgr. David Brockman, Vicar General of the Diocese; and Tick Clancy of Clancy and Theys, who have been selected as the general contractor for this historic project.
After the Bishop expressed his thanks to all involved in the campaign and in the preparation of the day’s event, all in attendance were invited to a reception on the grounds.