New Architect Explains His Faith Approach to Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral

Above: Mr. James O’Brien, architect chosen to do the final design of Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, signing contract with Bishop Michael F. Burbidge.

The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge has announced that Mr. James O’Brien of O’Brien and Keane in Arlington,Virginia, has been contracted as the architect to do the final design of the new Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. The Cathedral Campus will be built on a portion of the remaining 39 acres of the former Nazareth Property that was purchased by Servant of God Father Thomas F. Price in 1897.

Mr. O’Brien was selected for the project based on his broad experience in specialty designs of business structures and churches. His firm’s expertise ranges from conceptual design through completion of construction.

Among the houses of worship Mr. O’Brien has designed are Saint James the Greater Catholic Church in Charles Town, West Virginia; Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, Virginia; and Saint Dominic Monastery in Linden, Virginia. Currently, he is completing work on the new Saint Catherine of Siena Church in Wake Forest, which is scheduled to be dedicated in November.

“The instant we were invited to submit a proposal for the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral,” Mr. O’Brien said, “I knew that serving the Diocese on this project would be the opportunity of a lifetime. Few architects have such an opportunity, as few cathedrals are built. The notion that our firm can play a role in bringing the vision of Bishop Burbidge and the many faithful people of the Diocese to reality is very thrilling.”

“I am so pleased that Mr. Jim O’Brien has been selected to be the architect for the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge. “He is well respected and admired within his profession and is known for his vision, creativity and dedication. Mr. O’Brien is also a prayerful man who sees his work as a vocation and as a means to give glory to the Lord in service to His Church. I have great confidence in Mr. O’Brien and look forward to working with him on this historic and exciting project.”

The excitement is shared by Mr. O’Brien. “Working together with a team of people who all have the same goal is a definite plus,” Mr. O’Brien said. “Our goal is to create an environment that is a dwelling place for God and His people, a place that properly serves the celebration of the sacred liturgies and somehow projects the majesty of God’s kingdom here on earth through His Church.”

While his firm has taken on large projects such as the new Saint Catherine of Siena Church, this will be the first time O’Brien and Keane has designed a cathedral. But challenges are what Mr. O’Brien is used to. “One of our most challenging projects was the design of Saint Dominic’s Monastery because of the difficulties of the site. But that project remains one of our most rewarding, as we still receive the many blessings of the prayers of the wonderful cloistered Dominican nuns who live there.”

As Bishop Burbidge noted, Mr. O’Brien is a man of faith, one who is relying on the prayers of the people of the Diocese. “Bishop Burbidge told me that he is praying for me. That’s an incredible blessing and one that I’m sure will be the cornerstone of our endeavor together. Also, the name of the Cathedral, the Holy Name of Jesus, is such a potent reminder of the center of our focus,” Mr. O’Brien added.

“We are taught that God will find us and meet us wherever we are, if only we seek Him. But the beautiful thing about the construction of a church is that it is a human act with the sole intention of making a place for us to meet Him. I think it’s a very fine way to show our love, when we make that place and take part in the celebration of the Holy Mass there,” Mr. O’Brien said.

Final schematic designs are expected in December, 2013. Groundbreaking could take place by the end of 2014.

Above, from left: Dr. Henry Zaytoun, Jr., Cathedral Campus Co-Chair; Mr. Russell Elmayan, Diocese of Raleigh COO/CFO; Msgr. David D. Brockman, Vicar General; Bishop Michael F. Burbidge; Mr. James O’Brien; Mr. Timothy Mann, Cathedral Campus Co-Chair; Mr. Art Wesche, Diocesan Director of Property and Construction, at planning meeting.