Cathedral closed for renovations

STEUBENVILLE – Holy Name Church was closed after the last morning Mass Sunday, as the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville prepares to “restore, renew and renovate” the cathedral and to bring change to the city’s South End.

Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton was scheduled to discuss details of the $5 million dollar project at a 10 a.m. press conference today at the diocesan chancery offices.

The project is expected to take approximately 18 months to complete.

Monforton announced shortly after his installation as bishop the diocesan cathedral would remain at Holy Name Church.

“I visited with consultative bodies within the diocese, bishops outside of our diocese, with my brother diocesan priests as well as with leaders of the civic and business communities. I brought the issue to prayer. This community and Holy Name Church are still the spark. My question was how can the cathedral bring hope to the region. It was like Bishop (John King) Mussio was whispering in my ear to keep the cathedral in Steubenville,” Monforton said during a June 2013 interview.

“We will begin with the construction of one bell tower that will be more than 100 feet tall. When the bells ring people all over the Ohio Valley will know Father (Tom) Nau is celebrating Mass. In addition to the real bells we will have the technology to play music from the tower” Monforton stated during a November 2013 Mass.

“We are already having bore work done in the ground outside where the bell tower will be built. We want to make sure the tower and this cathedral will stand, not for years, or for decades, but for centuries. We are also inspecting the foundation of the church to ensure the new pitched roof will be supported,” Monforton stated.

“And, with the tall bell tower we are going to pitch the roof of the church. The roof will no longer be flat. That means when you are in the church and look up you won’t see the sound absorbing material we currently have. You will be able to look up and see the pitched roof with new stained glass windows of each saint who is the patron or patroness of every parish in our diocese,” continued Monforton.

Monforton said the confessional area on the south wall of the church will be repurposed as a baptistry.

“The parishes that once existed in our diocese but have been closed over the years will be represented in the baptistry. Even though those churches may be closed, their names will be kept in a living testimony to the diocese,” said Monforton.

“We will also do a lot of work outside. We will be increasing the lighting in the parking lot. And we will reach out to our neighbors to make our neighborhood safer. And, we will renew and restore our cathedral. I have instructed our design engineers to prepare a plan in which Holy Name Cathedral will have state-of-the-art technology permitting everyone in the diocese to view the re-direction Mass by way of television or the Internet. The technology means we also will be able to broadcast Masses periodically from our mother church. I hope this electronic bridge will draw the people of our diocese closer together,” Monforton in 2013.

“I see a beautiful structure that is worn with age. But maybe this can be the springboard and create changes in the South End of the city. I have had conversations with a lot of people. This will happen. This is not a dream. This is real life. I hope to change the city’s South End one building at a time and possibly work together with the library and the orthodox church,” Monforton said.

Holy Name Catholic Church was built in 1890 and was designated the diocesan cathedral in 1945 after the Eastern Ohio diocese was created.

According to Diocesan spokesperson Pat DeFrancis, the cathedral was rebuilt in 1957 when structural issues were found.

“The initial work will be modest at first. But I am confident our trajectory will become much greater in the coming months as we renovate from altar to front doors, from roof to basement hall,” Monforton said in June 2013.

(Gossett can be contacted at dgossett@heraldstaronline.com.)