Local/State News National/World News
The Catholic Herald: Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Madison Front page Most recent issue Past issues
Bishop Speaks
April 24, 2008 Edition

 Search this site:

You are here: Bishop Speaks
About Us
Click here to see and buy Catholic Herald photos
Faith Alive! page
How to submit photos/ads to the Catholic Herald
Catholic Herald Youth page
Jump to:
Under the Gospel Book (en Español)
Bishops' Schedules
About Bishop Morlino
About Bishop Emeritus Bullock

Bishops' Schedules:
Bishop Robert C. Morlino

Thursday, April 24, 2008
Attend Clergy Gathering, Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, Madison

Saturday, April 26, 2008
10:00 a.m. -- Preside and preach at Mass, Midwest Regional Bioethics Conference, Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, Madison

4:00 p.m. -- Preside and Preach at Mass, Knights of Columbus State Convention, Kalahari Resort, Wisconsin Dells

Sunday, April 27, 2008
4:30 p.m. -- Preside and preach at Sacrament of Confirmation, at St. Bernard Church, Middleton

April 28-30, 2008

Attend Installation of Bishop Earl A. Boyea as fifth Bishop of Diocese of Lansing, Lansing, Mich.

Bishop William H. Bullock

Monday, April 28, 2008
12:00 noon -- Preside and Preach at Celebration of the Eucharist, Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, Madison

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
7:00 p.m. -- Preside and Preach at Sacrament of Confirmation, at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Church, Sun Prairie

The need for a Cathedral and for campus ministry

illustration of Gospel Book being held open over bishop's head

Under the
Gospel Book

+ Bishop Robert
C. Morlino

(printable version)
(en Español)

Editor's note: Part three in a three-part series.

Following upon my columns of the last two weeks [part one, part two], I wish to touch upon the need for a Cathedral and some of the practical concerns I've heard, but then to turn towards our need to include Catholic campus ministry in our capital campaign.

More articles on
St. Raphael Cathedral

In the last two columns we've discussed the nature of our faith as a faith in Jesus Christ, whom from all eternity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit chose to send into the world in a particular time and space. We talked about how Christ wishes to continue that space- and time-limited presence through His Body, the Church. And we considered the Truth that the Holy Spirit gives life to the Church through the celebration of Sacraments, which require sacred times and sacred places.

We then turned to the truth that the teaching, sanctifying, and governing of the Church happens necessarily through bishops, priests, and deacons, and that the bishop is the chief teacher, governor, and sanctifier in the diocese. And finally, we discussed that it is the cathedral-church which serves as a home for that sacred time- and space-limited ministry of the bishop to the Body of Christ, the Church.

Connecting worship to what we believe

With that said, the history of cathedral-churches is admittedly varied. Many of the cathedrals in Europe are as magnificent as they frequently are empty of worshippers. They are beautiful structures, fit with gold and marble, and yet so many, in the once-Catholic countries where they rest, have lost the faith of their ancestors - the very ones who built such temples. Some wonder about the grandeur of these structures.

Theirs is a valid concern, for we cannot simply build a beautiful temple to give glory to God and abandon our duty to continual evangelization and catechesis. Rather, the love and attention which we put into creating those sacred times and sacred spaces of worship must, at least, equal the love and attention which we give to teaching our daughters and sons and to caring for our sisters and brothers. The Church has always taught that what and how we worship must be directly connected to what we believe, and so it is to this day; we believe in a God who not only deserves our worship and reverence, but who has also loved us and taught us to love the very least among us.

Higher service to the poor

And so, it is really not fair to say, "when there are poor people in the society, how could the bishop build his 'temple of gold'!?!", as if I actually thought we could have the Cathedral of Chartres right here in downtown Madison! And as if our worship and our acts of charity are mutually exclusive. The bishop doesn't have to build a temple of gold, but he has to build a place that is worthy of the Eucharistic celebration, worthy of the celebration of the Chrism Mass, worthy of the ordination of bishops, priests, and deacons, worthy of the bishop's ministry. We need a cathedral which is built for the purpose of celebrating sacred time, in a sacred space.

There are a lot of people who simply don't understand that the building of a cathedral does not exclude our care for the poor. To the contrary, our building of a worthy cathedral is, in itself, a higher service to the poor. We have a lot of ways to help the poor with their physical needs. But, to have a noble, beautiful place of worship is a service to the poor and to all, for the poor have a need for God, too. The poor have a need for food and clothing and shelter and warmth and healthcare, but every human being also has a need for God.

In how many beautiful places are the poor really welcome? Every woman and man has a need for God and a need to express their love for God in a beautiful place and to encounter Him through beauty. If we address all the other needs of the poor and we don't take care of that spiritual need, then we've really missed the boat. We take care of other needs so that we can help our poor with their spiritual needs. All people have a need for quiet, for serenity, for truth, and for the beauty of God's love in worship, and the church building is often the only place that's beautiful where some can go. When some of our sisters and brothers try to go into a beautiful museum, they either can't afford it or they are made to feel as if they don't fit.

We don't want to reduce our poor to people who are only hungry for their bodily needs and almost presume that they're not hungry for their spiritual needs. If one's spiritual needs are met, one can do with a lot less, in terms of bodily needs, in fact - not that we shouldn't attend to physical needs, and we do.

No diocesan bishop is the bishop forever, and as I go about this, it's not going to be my cathedral. It will be my cathedral while I am the bishop, but it's not going to be just the way I'd want it in every way. It will be the cathedral of the people of the Diocese of Madison long after I'm pushing up daisies.

Cathedral should be downtown on former site

While various options for using other church buildings have been looked at, ultimately the decision has been made that the Cathedral should be downtown and should be rebuilt on its former site. Madison is the kind of city that needs a visible presence of the Church downtown. Madison is a city, in its culture, that cries out for a cathedral. It is part of our duty as a Church to be a presence in that public sphere and it is part of our identity as a people of South-central Wisconsin.

This is why much of the most vocal support I've received has been from many in the downtown Madison community who are not Catholic, but who recognize the importance of maintaining that strong Catholic presence, if only even for its historical import and cultural relevance.

Once we've established that the cathedral should be downtown, the question then arises, what about the other parishes currently downtown? The cathedral will contain the Chrism Mass and Ordinations, not to mention countless other large-scale diocesan liturgies. In order to do that, we need seating for at least 1,000 people. While some have recommended using either Holy Redeemer or St. Patrick's, downtown, both are official historical sites, meaning that the outside of the building cannot be touched, and, given their current size, they would never be large enough to satisfy our needs for a Cathedral. Besides, given the traffic patterns in downtown Madison, there would be no way to have heavy traffic into and out of the Holy Redeemer site, in particular, even if it could be expanded. All of those things have been looked into carefully.

Each of us needs to start to explain these things to others or direct people to where these things can be explained.

Importance of supporting campus ministry

So too do we need to explain the importance of supporting our campus university ministries. Campus ministry is all about the 13,000 Catholic students in Madison and the 1,500 Catholic students in Platteville. Campus ministry is about meeting those students, who are at an important crossroads of their life, who are making important decisions which will affect the future of our community here in Wisconsin and around the world, and offering them an encounter with Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, and the invitation to follow Him, and to listen to Him as they make these important decisions in their life. Campus ministry offers us the opportunity to embrace all those who are seeking, and to offer them, in a time of growing independence, "ownership" of the Catholic faith.

Already we are seeing the results of what we've been able to do with resources we currently have. We are getting good numbers of vocations from those involved in campus ministry programs. And we're getting good numbers of students who want to be lay missionaries or, in other ways, help us with the lay mission of the Church. Campus ministry provides a "formation school" for priestly vocations and for lay vocations to mission.

This financial infusion to campus ministry is an investment for the future. And this is - in a way - more urgent than a cathedral building, because these are the young men and women who are going to get that cathedral filled up in due time, by inviting people to the faith and by building faithful, joy-filled Catholic families. They will get our cathedral and parishes filled up, not with tourists, but with worshippers who come to find Jesus Christ in the sacred space special to the Holy Father and the Bishop, and special to the worshippers, themselves.

So, campus ministry is terribly important in terms of building Catholic leaders - priestly and religious vocations and lay missionaries for the future - terribly important! If we must, we can wait a while for a cathedral, but we cannot wait to address the needs of our students at the UW-Madison and the UW-Platteville - it's that urgent!

Read columns, study, and talk about them

I thank you for taking the time to read this, and for reading my previous two columns [part one, part two]. I would ask you to read and re-read them; to take some time to consider what these projects mean for our Church, what they speak to in our Catholic faith. Please examine what import these priorities might have in your life and then speak to your family and to your friends about them - please express how our Catholic faith, which is a faith of sacred-time and sacred-space, is a gift which offers us, in a very tangible way, a sharing in the life of Christ which we cannot but wish to share with others.

Please pray in a special way for our Holy Father and the bishops and so many of the lay faithful who met last week in Washington, D.C., and in New York. Please pray that Peter, walking among us, will truly confirm the faith of all his sisters and brothers. God bless you all. Praised be Jesus Christ!

Jump to:   Top of page

Front page           Most recent issue           Past issues

Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices and mailing address: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53719
Phone: 608-821-3070     Fax: 608-821-3071     E-Mail: info@madisoncatholicherald.org