Local News

New Catholic cathedral planned for Raleigh

Posted September 7, 2011

The planned Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh is depicted in an architectural rendering.

— The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh plans to build a cathedral in southwest Raleigh, Bishop Michael Burbidge said Wednesday.

The 2,000-seat Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral will be on the 39-acre former site of Cardinal Gibbons High School, west of the Dorothea Dix Hospital campus between Centennial Parkway and Western Boulevard.

Burbidge said there is no time-line for construction, but officials hope to break ground by the middle of 2013. The project is expected to cost $75 million to $90 million, and he said the diocese hopes to raise at least a third of the cost before breaking ground.

Fundraising will be difficult in the slow economy, he said, but he noted the fast-growing diocese has always risen to such challenges. The diocese already has about $10 million in hand, he said.

"We're not just building a beautiful, glorious, magnificent church," he said. "We are building a vibrant campus."

The diocese has hired a Washington, D.C., architect to design the cathedral campus, which Burbidge said would host concerts of sacred music and lectures as well as liturgical services. A two-story gathering hall and a three-level underground parking garage also are planned for the campus.

Raleigh Bishop Michael Burbidge Raleigh bishop announces plans for new cathedral

Burbidge said diocesan officials have been studying the prospect of a new cathedral since late 2009. The 54-county diocese has grown by more than 40 percent since 2000, he said, and Sacred Heart Church, Raleigh's existing cathedral, is too small to accommodate increased needs.

Officials looked at possibly locating the new cathedral downtown, he said, but there wasn't enough room there to accomplish everything they wanted to do.

The diocese owns the Cardinal Gibbons land, which is part of a 400-acre tract that Father Thomas F. Price, the “Tar Heel Apostle” and first native North Carolinian to be ordained a Catholic priest, purchased in 1897. Price established an orphanage there two years later, and he established Holy Name of Jesus Chapel there as well.

David Crabtree with Bishop Burbidge Bishop discusses transformation of Raleigh site

Sacred Heart, at the corner of Hillsborough and McDowell streets downtown, is the smallest Catholic cathedral in the continental U.S., officials said. It was built in the early 1920s and can hold only 320 people.

Burbidge said it will remain an active church once the new cathedral is built.

"Sacred Heart has a long commitment, as does this Diocese of Raleigh, of social outreach to the poor and those most in need in downtown Raleigh," he said.

The cathedral campus will help the diocese expand those outreach efforts, he said.

"I clearly understand this is a monumental, historic project," he said. "I wake up every morning and say, 'Lord, are you sure you want me to do this?' And the answer keeps coming back, 'Yes.'"


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Sep 12, 2011

    These millions and MILLIONS of dollars could fund REAL research to end disease (like the Bill Gates Foundation). Insted, they will buy incense, candles & decorative hats.

    What sort of deity would want such over-the-top homage while 30,000 children starve to death every day on planet earth?

  • caitlin163 Sep 9, 2011

    The cost of the cathedral does seem high, but I suppose if Catholics have the money to spend in the current situation of the economy... then they should do it. Tens of millions of dollars putting architects, contractors, masons, electricians, plumbers, artists and others to work -- plus a beautiful new home for an overcrowded parish. Seems like win-win.

    I do not understand where this word "hate" is coming from. In all of my life, I have never heard a cradle or converted Catholic speak hatefully of another person.

    I left the church about ten years ago, but I have been thinking about going back just because of the positive example of charity, humility and grace that so many Catholics demonstrate.

  • amxpress Sep 8, 2011

    Though having a new catherdral would be nice, I don't understand how it serves the smaller parishes that are having a hard enough time coping with expansion & growth. I have not been to the present cathedral nor is there a reason I can think of at this time to go; it serves primarily its parishioners. We are told that it is too small to serve its community. So is our church, and many churches in the diocese. Build the new cathedral, but you shouldn't build it with monies from other parishes, monies that should go to their own parish to improve or expand.

  • lauraleigh Sep 8, 2011

    dws - I believe I did answer. I don't expect we'll see one huge outlay in the Works of Mercy, but in time, appropriate to the life of the new Cathedral, I fully expect we'll exceed the order of magnitue. And that's discounting the intangible positive effects of the cathedral - which can't be assigned a price tag, anyway.

  • dws Sep 8, 2011

    lauraleigh, although you did not answer my question, I understand.....completely

  • lauraleigh Sep 8, 2011

    dws - it's not a contradiction. We give a LOT of money to the Corporal Works of Mercy now. Name any other religious organization that provides 25% of the nation's health care, that does the overseas work (think of Mother Teresa of Calcutta) that the Roman Catholic Church does. However - when we get caught up in the temporals, we can get mixed up in the intangible values of Faith, Hope, Love - and we can lose sight of Who God Is in favor of how wonderful we are; this Cathedral will address the Eternal, while continuing and *expanding* the temporals.

  • dws Sep 8, 2011

    Will the Corporal Works of Mercy financial support be increased in the same order of magnitude?

  • lauraleigh Sep 8, 2011

    katrinawb: your post is cutting off because you're going over the max 1000 characters. Cut your post in half if you must, finish it on a second one.

  • lauraleigh Sep 8, 2011

    jrfergerson: the Catholic Church does help the poor and homeless. You (and a lot of other ill-informed people) are presuming that construction of the Cathedral replaces the Corporal Works of Mercy. As in our lives, the two co-exist and are pursued simultaneously. PLEASE try to become better informed on these facts.

  • lauraleigh Sep 8, 2011

    jrfergerson - you complain about not hiring local architects. You mean those Baptist architects who don't have a CLUE as to the relationship between architecture, liturgy and theology? Hey, they built most of the newer (1970s and later) parish sorta-churches in this state: UGLY, irreverent spaces. This guy was chosen primarily because he GETS the theology-architecture relationship. Instead of doing all your bellyaching, maybe you ought to ask "Why?" not insisting we're doing something wrong.