Bishop reveals new plans for Catholic cathedral

May. 07, 2014 @ 10:23 AM

The Most Rev. Michael F. Burbidge, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, revealed revised plans for a new diocese cathedral in Raleigh this week. The new design is the result of a campaign soliciting feedback and pledges from parishioners at 400 churches in the diocese that stretches from Burlington to the Outer Banks.
The Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, to be built in Raleigh near the N.C. State University Centennial Campus, will be the mother church for the diocese and the bishop’s home parish. Burbidge told media Tuesday that his hope, dream and prayer has been to build a mother church to gather all of the diocese to worship as one. There are 231,000 registered Catholics in the diocese as well as an estimated 200,000 Hispanic parishioners.
The new cathedral will seat 2,000 people. Changed from an original design, the cathedral will be a cruciform church, in the shape of a cross, with seating for 1,000 in the nave and 500 on each side. Closer proximity to the altar was one of the themes of parishioner input sessions, Burbidge said.
More than 22,000 people have pledged donations totaling $65 million so far, he said. Of that, $17.9 million will go toward parishes’ debt, building projects, ministries and programs. Another $7.4 million will sustain more than 30 outreach ministries throughout the diocese, and the remaining $30.4 million will go toward the design, construction and furnishing of the cathedral. Another $10 million will be needed to complete the cathedral. Changes in the design also include surface parking instead of a parking deck, Burbidge said. Also, unlike original plans, the cathedral will not have a basement and crypt. It will include a dome. Forty stained-glass windows created in 1927 for the old Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church in Philadelphia will also be used in the new cathedral.
Site plans call for a future fellowship hall, school, gymnasium and athletic field on the 40 acres owned by the diocese. But those are on hold for now. Burbidge said that parishioners understood the need for a big church, and supporters said not to build it too small. People were also very clear they wanted the cathedral to be beautiful, he said. The architect – new for the revised plan – is James O’Brien of O’Brien and Keane Architects. O’Brien also designed St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in Wake Forest, which was dedicated this past fall. Burbidge has dedicated 11 new churches in his eight years as bishop here. The number of registered Catholics in the diocese has grown by about 38 percent since 2001.
Administrative offices for the diocese will remain in Raleigh off of Creedmoor Road. Sacred Heart, the church in downtown Raleigh, will continue to have daily Mass and be available for small weddings and funerals.
Burbidge said that the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral will be a center, more than just a building. There are multiple worship services on any given day, he said, and there will be events like sacred music concerts and a bishop lecture series with guest speakers. As for the fellowship hall, there aren’t funds to build it now so they could hold a reception on the lawn with tents if need be, he said. It’s not ideal, Burbidge said, but the cathedral needs to be built before anything else.
If the groundbreaking is held in December as planned, he estimates the cathedral will be finished within two years. For information, visit