Diocese of Madison Receives Approval for New Cathedral


The Diocese of Madison is on the path to having a cathedral once again as the Holy See approves the proposal to designate St. Bernard Church in Madison as the new cathedral. Bishop Donald J. Hying highlights the significance of a cathedral in the diocese’s mission and identity. This decision follows years of discussion on how to replace the previous cathedral, St. Raphael, which was destroyed in an arson fire in 2005. St. Bernard Church, chosen partly for its location within Madison’s city boundaries, is undergoing renovations for its new role as the cathedral, and it will host important diocesan events.

A New Cathedral for the Diocese of Madison

The Diocese of Madison is one step closer to having a cathedral once again, as the Holy See has granted approval for the proposal to designate the existing St. Bernard Church in Madison as the new cathedral. Bishop Donald J. Hying of Madison expressed the significance of this decision, saying, “The cathedral is an important part of the mission and identity of the diocese.” He described it as not only the church of the bishop but also the church of the people of the diocese.

Answering the Cathedral Question

Since the tragic arson fire that destroyed St. Raphael Cathedral in downtown Madison in 2005, the Diocese of Madison has been grappling with the question of how to replace it. This decision is part of the ongoing “Into the Deep” strategic planning effort, which aims to realign diocesan resources to fulfill its mission.

During the deliberations, the diocese explored three options: continuing to use diocesan parishes for celebrations, rebuilding the cathedral on its original site, or petitioning the Holy See to designate an existing church as the new cathedral. Bishop Hying, after careful consideration and feedback, opted for the petition option, selecting St. Bernard Church for this honor. This choice was partly due to its location within Madison’s city boundaries, a requirement under Church law.

St. Bernard Church – A Symbol of Hope

St. Bernard Church, currently part of Pastorate 30 with Fr. Michael Radowicz as its pastor, holds great historical significance. Father Radowicz shared his joy, saying, “It brings me great joy to see a campus with a prominent past here in the Diocese of Madison become the cathedral parish.” The church, dating back to 1927, boasts impressive ornamentation and architecture that tells a story of history and provides hope for the Church’s future.

The Role of the New Cathedral

Similar to St. Raphael Cathedral, which was initially an existing parish elevated to the status of a cathedral when the Diocese of Madison was established in 1946, the new cathedral will play a central role. It will host major diocesan events, including priesthood ordinations and the annual Chrism Mass. In recent years, these events were held in other churches within the diocese.

Remodeling and Transformation

St. Bernard Church is currently undergoing renovations and remodeling to prepare for its new role as the cathedral. Meanwhile, Masses are being celebrated in the parish center, and the school building has been removed. Bishop Hying describes this project as an “apt symbol of the Into the Deep process,” transforming an existing legacy to serve the current needs of the diocese. Father Radowicz also expressed gratitude for the dedicated team of contractors and craftsmen working on the project.

A Beacon of Faith in the Heart of the City

In closing, Bishop Hying emphasized the significance of this endeavor, saying, “We will have a cathedral in the city of Madison.” He believes it will be a “beacon” in the heart of the city, serving as a reminder of God’s love and the victory achieved through Jesus Christ. This new cathedral is not only a symbol of faith but also a testament to the dedication and hope of the diocese.

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Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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