Grand opening for Holy Name Heights/Bishop O’Connor Catholic Center Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016 -- 12:00 AM
holy name heights grand opening
Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison cuts the ribbon during the grand opening of the redevelopment of the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center into Holy Name Heights on August 18. Also pictured are, forefront, from left: Msgr. Michael Burke, pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison and former rector of Holy Name Seminary; Mark Meloy, president and CEO of First Business Bank in Madison; Paul Skidmore, alder, ninth district, City of Madison; Kevin Phelan, chancellor emeritus, Diocese of Madison; Jackson Fonder, president and CEO, Catholic Charities Madison; Marc Ott, lead architect, Gorman & Company; Ted Matkom, Wisconsin market president, Gorman & Company; and Gary Gorman, CEO, Gorman & Company. To view or purchase photos, go to (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- “We have much to celebrate today,” said Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison. “We’re just beginning.”

He spoke those words at the start of a Votive Mass of the Most Holy Name of Jesus on August 18 -- the day of the grand opening of the Holy Name Heights/Bishop O’Connor Catholic Center in Madison.

Later in his homily, Bishop Morlino said the day was a “cementing of old friendships and the beginning of new ones” and he remarked on the “power” of the building now being called Holy Name Heights.

“The name of Jesus means power, means healing, means reverence,” Bishop Morlino said. “We, today, in this building, have a new kind of power in our witness to the world. We will, in so many ways, be in a much better position to use this building to proclaim the Gospel.”

Repurposing of building

The grand opening marked the conclusion of the repurposing of the building, which formerly was the site of Holy Name Seminary.

It is now the landmark home for the Diocese of Madison, Catholic Charities, the Bishop O’Donnell Holy Name Memorial Chapel, and a new 53-unit residential community.

The former Holy Name Seminary welcomed its first students in 1964 and had served as the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center since the late 90s after the seminary was closed in 1995.

The Diocese of Madison engaged Gorman & Company to design a historically sensitive development that was compatible with the neighborhood.

Gorman & Company served as the developer for the $21 million project, through a long-term lease agreement with the diocese, and provided architectural and construction services for the initiative.

The diocese retains full ownership of the renovated Holy Names Heights property, which is managed by Gorman & Company.

Grand opening ceremony

A ceremony was held following Mass, which featured several speakers who played prominent roles in the project.

Diocese of Madison Vicar General Msgr. James Bartylla served as master of ceremonies.

He introduced the speakers for the event, including Bishop Morlino, who thanked everyone for their work on the project.

“I’m very grateful for what we’ve been able to do here,” the bishop said.

Gorman & Company CEO Gary Gorman spoke next and jokingly said he was told his soul was at risk depending upon the success of the project.

He praised staff members of the Diocese of Madison for their work on the project, along with his staff at Gorman & Company for “saving my soul, at least for now.”

He also thanked First Business Bank for their help and efforts with the financing of the project.

City of Madison Alder Paul Skidmore also spoke. “I’m humbled to be here,” he said. “This is a very special place for me . . . Holy Name has been an icon in Madison.”

Former Holy Name Seminary Rector and current pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison, Msgr. Michael Burke, was also a speaker.

“What a great day!” Monsignor Burke said, thanking everyone involved and adding, “This is a great day for the history of the diocese and as Bishop [Morlino] said at Mass, we need to be very grateful for this.”

Bishop Morlino cut the ribbon officially opening the facility as others involved in the project looked on.

The new look

Following the ribbon-cutting, attendees had an opportunity to tour the building.

Part of the tour included the History Lounge with displays of memorabilia and photographs from the more than 30-year history of Holy Name Seminary.

Plans also call for video and audio interviews to showcase an oral history of the seminary.

Office tenants, residents, and visitors will have a chance to view the collection and learn about Holy Name Seminary’s spiritual legacy.

Some priests of the Diocese of Madison, both graduates and former faculty of Holy Name Seminary, toured the History Lounge and the rest of the building.

Some of the new 53 apartments were also on display, along with the renovated offices of the Diocese of Madison, Catholic Charities, and other organizations, including the Catholic Herald and Relevant Radio, along with the renovated auditorium.

Preserving the building

As the plans went forward to repurpose the building, and better utilize more of the space, Gorman & Company produced a plan for the diocese that would preserve the Bishop O’Donnell Holy Name Memorial Chapel noted for its 360-piece mosaic of Christ and for its stained glass windows.

The former Bishop O’Connor Pastoral Center was renovated as a “certified historic rehabilitation” in compliance with historic preservation guidelines prescribed by the National Park Service.

Whenever possible, the landmark’s significant historic and architectural elements were preserved, refurbished, and sensitively integrated into the renovation design.

In addition to preserving the chapel and reclaiming the auditorium, the original diocesan seal that was inlaid in the terrazzo floor at the building entrance has been uncovered and restored.

Segments of the original dormitory hallways were protected and remain intact including the tiled walls, terrazzo floor, doors, and windows.

In a nod to its history, the stone entablature over the front entrance to the building once again reads “Holy Name Seminary”.

For more information on Holy Name Heights, go to

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