A beloved building is reborn! Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

In 1995, many of us in the Diocese of Madison were very sad when Holy Name Seminary closed its doors.

The seminary had been a focal point for the diocese, with the building housing seminarians and many diocesan events. It was even the site of a pre-season training camp for the University of Wisconsin Badger football team for many years.

The seminary’s spire towered over the west side of Madison, a sign of the Church for all to see and hear as the seminary’s bells pealed every 15 minutes.

Changes made

Yet, the difficult decision was made to close the seminary program. Very few high school seminaries existed and it was a strain on the diocese’s financial coffers.

Eventually, diocesan offices moved from about seven locations to be housed at the building renamed the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center. Various meetings and events were held at the center, and apartment suites for retired priests were built.

But the center was still not making enough money to sustain the large building. Repairs and upgrades were needed throughout the structure.

What could be done? There were even tentative plans to move the diocesan offices to another location.

Developer to the rescue

Then enter Gary Gorman, CEO of Gorman & Company. A member of Holy Mother of Consolation Parish in Oregon, Gorman talked with diocesan officials about possibilities for use of the historic building.

After much discussion, Gorman offered the services of his own company, which served as the developer of a $21 million renovation of the Bishop O’Connor Center into Holy Name Heights. The project included 53 new apartment homes while maintaining office space for the diocese, Catholic Charities, and affiliated organizations such as the Catholic Herald and Relevant Radio.

Gorman & Company came to the rescue with a long-term lease agreement with the Diocese of Madison, which still owns the building.


I’ve been here watching the amazing transformation of this historic landmark day by day. It had turned into a very quiet place. Msgr. Jim Bartylla, the vicar general, who lived here throughout the changes, said he was often the only person here — and when I came to work on the weekends, there were two of us!

Now it is a busy place with 51 of 53 apartments filled with people of all ages and a few dogs. Over 40 Catholic Charities employees from various locations moved to the center, to join the remaining diocesan employees.

It is a thriving place, which has been renovated with new paint, carpeting, window treatments, lights, and landscaping. The redevelopment plan preserved the architectural and sacred legacy of the building — including the beautiful Bishop O’Donnell Holy Name Memorial Chapel with its striking mosaic of Christ and the stained glass window that honors our soon to be canonized Teresa of Calcutta.

A beloved building has been reborn! Thanks to all those who made this transformation possible.