The following text was adapted from the announcement made by Bishop Morlino Sunday, June 10, at the site of the former and future St. Raphael's Cathedral in Madison.
Gathering to celebrate the Presence of Jesus Christ in our Church, especially through the Sacramental sign of His Body and Blood and after compelling ourselves to walk the streets of Madison with Him as a sign that we all journey toward heaven with him, it could not be a more appropriate time to announce my decision about the future of our cathedral-church, the Cathedral-church of St. Raphael.
I want to personally thank Bishop Paul Swain, Bishop of Sioux Falls, S.D., and former Rector of St. Raphael Cathedral, for being with us on this momentous day. Likewise, I thank Chief Debra Amesqua of the City of Madison Fire Department, who was so kind to us the day of, and days following, the terrible fire here at St. Raphael's, for being present.
Listening, consulting on cathedral
Over the past two years I have held "listening sessions" in the various areas of the diocese, so that anyone who wished to speak his or her mind about the cathedral could, indeed, be heard.
I have made it clear from the beginning that I was leaning in a certain direction with regard to the future of the cathedral, but I insisted that I remained open to being persuaded otherwise and that has, indeed, been true, despite the persistent claim of some that my mind was made up from the beginning. It hurts any human being when he or she becomes the victim of rash judgment. However, I indeed have listened to those who chose to speak with me at the listening sessions and I have received sufficiently copious correspondence about the future of our cathedral.
Likewise, I have consulted the diocesan pastoral council, the diocesan finance council, and the priests' council about this matter, both formally and informally, over the space of two years. I do believe that anyone who wanted to have his or her say has had every reasonable opportunity to do so.
Words from Archbishop John Glennon
Having said all of that, let me quote at some length from Archbishop John Glennon, who roughly a century ago, was faced with the task of providing a cathedral-church for the great Archdiocese of St. Louis. He also had listened to many people and he said:
"In this matter I feel I am only echoing your wishes and that you are as anxious as I am to begin the great work. Yet, there may be some who, for reasons more-or-less praiseworthy, would advise against it. This, they might urge, is not a cathedral-building-age - the purpose which it answered in the past exists no longer - religion requires today consecrated lives not magnificent temples. The true building is not that made by hands - the building of principle, character, purpose, the elevation of lives through sacrifice, prayer, and devotion. It is thus that we should worship God, 'in spirit and in truth.' And if there is a surplus of goods we are told that it is on the poor and the sick and the lowly that it should be expended, for our love and service of humanity is best expressed in the love and service of God.
"There is much in these statements that may be held as true and we can readily agree with them. But I might ask, to reply, are we forgetting the poor? When we ask for a cathedral we set up no rival to the mission of charity. Rather, we fulfill it to the last degree. If it be charity to house the homeless, the cathedral will be such for them and it will serve at the same time as a home for the living God. A home for the poor, I say, because among the poorest must be counted those who have lost their faith, whose hearts are loveless in whose lives there is no light or hope. They, the orphaned of heart - they whose poverty is most pitiful - will find in the temple that we would build consolation, and peace, and hope; for in that temple there would arise an altar, and from that altar would come the pleasing words of the leading Savior, 'Come to me all who labor and are heavily burdened and I will refresh you.'
"Why build a Church? While it is true that the essence of religion is spiritual, not material, and while it is true that the temple of God - in so far as its building goes - is material; yet in our condition, members of visible Church, professing a definite creed, united in an organized society, the material structure is just as necessary for the proper observance of that religion as our material bodies are to the life of the soul. Since our faith teaches us not only the necessity of divine worship, but also that divine worship must accept a visible form, then there should be a place set apart for such worship. Our faith teaches the sacramental system; then there should be a place where sacraments would be administered. The duty of the minister of God is to preach the word of God. Will not that best be done if an edifice is prepared wherein God's word may be heard? But again, if the mysterious Eucharistic presence of the Christ is to continue - if that wonderful condescension and love exhibited by Him is to meet response in any way worthy, it becomes necessary to have the altar, tabernacle, and church as the visible home of the Emmanuel. And why all of this? That men might be honored? No, . . . it was for the offering of faithful hearts, of devoted nations to the honor of this King of Kings - it was the undoing of Bethlehem's ingratitude, the breaking of Calvary's gloom, the [glorification] of the crucifixion. Christ would be their king and this would be his earthly home and here he would rule them in spirit and in mercy and in truth.
"You have churches - many of them in the city and the diocese; but they are orphaned till the mother church, the cathedral church is built. It stands to them and to the diocese what the parish church is for the parish. Until the cathedral-church is built, the circle is not complete; the crown is not reached. The work of God is unfinished as long as we remain without the crowning edifice, which will be a parish church for all of you, the cathedral for the diocese."
Rebuild cathedral on present site
Having considered these words of Archbishop Glennon and after the many hours of prayer and listening in which I have involved myself, I truly believe in my heart that the decision at which I have arrived is what God Wills to the best of my capacity to discern His Will.
And so I announce that through my listening sessions, through the correspondence that I have received about this matter, and through the formal consultation process with the diocesan pastoral, finance, and priest councils, in every case, a healthy majority advised me that the cathedral should remain in downtown Madison and, for the most part, that advice has also indicated that the cathedral-church should be right here, where it has been since the beginning of our diocese in 1946.
Having listened to and prayed with all of those who participated, as well as through my own prayer and reflection, I concur. The location of the Cathedral-church for the Diocese of Madison, the Cathedral of St. Raphael, will be right here, where we stand.
Our wonderful Church, where I worshiped most Sundays myself and which we all miss so much, was not built in the first place to be a cathedral. It was built as a parish church and then modified for Cathedral purposes. The destruction of our cathedral continues to break my heart and the building of a cathedral-church is not something that I ever foresaw as part of my responsibility when I came to the Diocese of Madison, but now it is my manifest duty, and recent consultations at the Vatican have confirmed me in this decision, though the decision rests with me, not with the Holy See and I take full responsibility for it.
We need a cathedral-church that will seat about a thousand people and St. Raphael's structure is not suitable in those terms. And so it will be necessary to dismantle what is presently here as well as the cathedral rectory building. Our cathedral will have its entrance not on West Main St., but rather on Fairchild St. and will occupy the footprint of the present parking lot, where we are gathered, the Cathedral church itself, and what was the Cathedral rectory.
Next step: feasibility study, dialogue
Our next step will be to commission a feasibility study to see the extent of funds which can be raised for our joint endeavor and project. At the same time I will initiate into dialogue with ecumenical, academic, and political representatives of Madison as to the perceived needs of the area and as to how the Church can best attend to all the spiritual and physical needs of this great city and region of Wisconsin.
Once I receive the results of this feasibility study, and have these other practical and, no doubt, fruitful discussions we will commission drawings and go forward. We will also begin immediately forming a central steering committee and other associated committees, such as a downtown advisory committee, an organ and liturgical music committee, a liturgical arts committee, and a committee composed of Catholic faithful from outside Dane County so that sufficient input can continue to be had and a joint deliberative process be engaged.
As we receive the results of the feasibility study and set up our committees, the committees will be seeking input from all interested parties so that we go forward in a spirit of genuine collaboration to accomplish a task which, as I said is my manifest duty - but not mine alone, the manifest duty of all of us.
Will be cathedral for centuries
This will be a cathedral, please God, for centuries and it is terribly important that we engage ourselves in this manifest duty with the good of our community in the Diocese of Madison and the community of Dane County well into the future in mind. That will be our challenge and our duty and I hope that all of us together will pray hard, that together we can accomplish it.
Thank you so much for participating today as we celebrate the presence of Christ among us, a presence which we will experience more intensely on that wonderful day when God allows us to dedicate our new cathedral. Until then we must pray and pray hard that the Holy Spirit will back up our humble efforts with his mighty and creative power.
We ask the special intercession of our patron the Archangel St. Raphael to assist us as we pray for the future of the Church in the city of Madison and in the Church of south-central Wisconsin in the years to come.
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
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