Local News

Revamped Catholic cathedral nears groundbreaking

Posted May 6, 2014

Artist's sketch of the planned Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh.

— The Catholic Diocese of Raleigh hopes to break ground in December on a cathedral in southwest Raleigh after scaling back plans for the project to bring it in line with available funding.

The Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral will still have a 2,000-seat sanctuary, but plans for a fellowship hall, a parking garage and a crypt on the 39-acre former site of Cardinal Gibbons High School, off Western Boulevard, have been shelved for now. The revisions helped slash the budget for the project to $41 million, from the $75-plus million estimate Bishop Michael Burbidge laid out two years ago.

Burbidge held about 400 receptions across the 54-county diocese to build support for the cathedral. Based on feedback from area Catholics gathered during those meetings, the design of the church also has changed to bring people closer to the altar. Using a crucifix design, 1,000 seats will now be in front of the altar, with 500 on either side of it.

"The design will be similar to other cathedrals, in that we are building on a 2,000-year heritage of sacred architecture, James O'Brien, the Arlington, Va.-based architect brought in to handle the revamped project, said in a statement. "At the same time, the cathedral is intended to be a reflection of the values of the faithful of North Carolina, and so it is bound to be unique in that way."

The diocese has already raised $30.4 million toward the construction cost, and officials plan to raise the remaining $10.6 million through major gifts and naming rights to various elements of the complex.

Burbidge said he expects construction on the cathedral to take about two years.

"It is my daily hope and prayer that our new cathedral will be a source of spiritual inspiration and strength for people now and for generations to come as we continue this earthly pilgrimage and until that day we all meet again in our heavenly home," he said in a statement.

The cathedral will replace Sacred Heart Church, Raleigh's existing cathedral. Built in the early 1920s at the corner of Hillsborough and McDowell streets downtown, Sacred Heart can hold only 320 people and is the smallest Catholic cathedral in the continental U.S.

Burbidge has said that Sacred Heart will remain an active church once the new cathedral is built.


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  • karlemagne May 8, 2014

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    Perhaps you may be enlightened by a brief study of architectural history and current building construction methods and costs. The cathedral may not be minimalist but it is hardly extravagant. For some perspective, with a discerning eye, look at most churches throughout the world of any religion, or look right across the street, where NC State is completing a student center renovation, a new library, and a student housing project; each with a price tag over $110 million.

    As wood chipper put it, the idea is to glorify Jesus. Remember that Christ himself rebuked Judas for suggesting that the precious ointment with which Mary Magdalene washed his feet should be sold and the profits given to the poor.

    Those in need should never be abandoned, yet why not glorify God as well! To that point, the cathedral project is being financed by a special fundraising effort which did not divert any funds from the Diocese's substantial charitable work.

  • Grand Union May 7, 2014

    I'd guess that Jesus would much rather they build a nice park on the land so that many more of his Dads creations could enjoy life.......
    And what are they going to do with it in a generation or so when its near empty like all the other Cathedrals. I doubt that it will attract many tourists like Notre Dame or Yorkminster...............

  • Ty Shrake May 6, 2014
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    The idea is to glorify Jesus. Have you ever seen the inside of the Vatican and Saint Peter's basilica?

  • rduwxboy May 6, 2014

    Seems to be way too extravagant. I wonder if Pope Francis has seen the plans.

  • JustOneMoreGodThanThee May 6, 2014