Help the Cathedral of St. Paul

From Stella Borealis, news of the Cathedral of my home town.

Folks, I think St. Paul Cathedral may be the most spectacular cathedral church in the United States.   It is worthy of your attention even if you are not from around here.

The Cathedral is the National Shrine of St. Paul.

It has not, btw, been ruined.

Saturday, September 26, 2009
Archdiocese passing the plate for St. Paul Cathedral

With a debt of nearly $13 million and crumbling walls that endanger the priceless 25-foot high mosaics on its prized cathedral, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is asking Catholics and non-Catholics alike to open their wallets a bit wider this weekend.

The archdiocese spent more than $30 million earlier this decade to renovate the Cathedral of St. Paul, but donations to cover the cost have dwindled during the economic meltdown. Roughly $13 million remains on the debt, while another $14 million is needed to repair damage from pre-restoration leaks from the dome.

The landmark cathedral that watches over downtown St. Paul is a century old; it serves not only as the primary worship center for 2,500 families and a "mother church" for about 700,000 members of the archdiocese but is also the city’s namesake. Its doors are open seven days a week.

"It’s truly an artistic treasure, and I think our nation is not used to caring for buildings like that," said Father Joseph Johnson, the cathedral’s rector. "We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a sports stadium and 30 years from now won’t think [twice about] tearing it down and building a new one, but caring for old and irreplaceable treasures like this takes a different mindset."

If even possible, Johnson said building a new cathedral would cost upwards of $1 billion.

Churches throughout the archdiocese will hold special collections during masses this weekend.

"With a building of that magnitude and age, it has constant problems, and the cost is enormous," said archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath. "It’s pretty staggering."

The special collection "is obviously not intended to raise the entire cost" of the shortfall, he said.

Carolyn Will, director of media relations for the Cathedral Heritage foundation, cited a letter in the archdiocese newsletter, the Catholic Sprit by Archbishop John Nienstedt that said if every one of the approximately 700,000 members of the archdiocese donated an extra $25, the remainder of the current debt from prior repairs would be paid off.

The Beaux Arts cathedral, in use since 1915, was designated in June as a national shrine of the Apostle Paul, the only one of its kind in the Untied States. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places and is regularly open for tours and concerts, its caretakers asking only a goodwill donation, if possible, in return.

Seven years ago, the archdiocese completed an emergency renovation of the copper dome and roof. After the interior restoration, church leaders hope to restore the cathedral’s two historic pipe organs for about $2.5 million.

The weekend’s efforts will be a prelude of a wider fundraising push targeted beyond Catholics in the Twin Cities.

"The cathedral is a unique church, a landmark for the whole community," McGrath said. "We’re hoping more and more people realize that."

Coincidentally, the cathedral parish festival will be held Sunday after an 11-year hiatus. It will be from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the corner of Summit and Selby avenues. Star Tribune

Do my a favor… send a donation and tell them Fr. Z sent you!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. S Petersen says:

    Dear Fr.: The link at “send a donation” (following the type of “do MY a favor”)still needs a few steps afterwards and leaves some choices that a person in my position, knowing only what you have told me on your blog, in a bit of a quandary about where to send the money (that mite which I wish could be given like the Gospel one). Yours, S. Petersen.

  2. ssoldie says:

    I have a suggestion, instead of each parish in Mn, taking up a collection for the USCCB this year, let’s have instead the collection for the continued repair of the St. Paul Cathedrial. That to me much more deserving, but then again, I am for disbaning the USCCB. Just think of all the restoring and up keep we would be doing in every parish in, in every state across America.

  3. Fr. John Mary says:

    Father Z: I have visited the Cathedral/Shrine of St. Paul several times and have found it very cold and uninspiring. Is something wrong with me? The grey interior, the statues that seemed (to me, an iconographer) to be without life, the whole space seemed to be without the kind of “life” you sense in European cathedrals (esp. in Italy). Again, I do not want to sound like a ‘crab’, but what is it that you find to be so inspirational? Thank you.

  4. Elizabethrose says:

    Fr. John Mary: I feel similarly. Part of the problem (for me) is the use of what appear to be compact fluorescent lightbulbs overhead. The fixtures in the sanctuary appear to use standard incandescent bulbs, fortunately! The ambience when the overhead lights are off is greatly improved!
    On the upside (and I suppose of greater importance!), the Cathedral has some wonderful, excellent, holy priests and bishops! Praise God!

  5. markomalley says:

    Growing up, the contrast between the green patina of the Cathedral’s dome and the white of the capitol’s dome was always a nice contrast.

    I hope that the green patina will return before too many years. Seeing the black of the early oxidized stage just doesn’t seem “right” to me.

  6. Nan says:

    markomalley, better the black dome than the crumbled one it would be without repair.

    Fr. John Mary, have you been to the Basilica? That leaves me cold while I love the Cathedral.

    Also, don’t forget that there’s a miniature lego model of the Cathedral available. Scroll down to the bottom of the 4 items listed.

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