By DAVE GOSSETT
STEUBENVILLE - Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton said he is ready to "renew, restore and renovate" the Holy Name Cathedral on South Fifth Street and announced he has obtained 75 percent of the funds needed for the $5 million project.
DISCUSSING CATHEDRAL PLANS — Bishop Jeffrey Monforton of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville discussed plans for the renewal, restoration and renovation of the Holy Name Cathedral in Steubenville following a Mass Sunday to close the Year of Faith. - Dave Gossett
Monforton made his remarks Sunday night following a Mass to close the Year of Faith in the Catholic Church.
"This day we begin to renew, restore and renovate our mother church in the Steubenville diocese. 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 explained.
"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," he added.
"During the last 60 days I have conducted a silent visit to business leaders and individuals who can give us a jump start on raising the funds for this campaign. I am glad to announce we now have approximately 75 percent of what we need for this project. We will begin a public campaign after the new year. I know at this time of the year several charitable organizations are seeking donations and I encourage you to respond to those requests. And after Jan. 1 I be asking for your support for our Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral," explained Monforton.
"We are putting together a memorial list to allow people to memorialize their family or their parish. This campaign begins with us, because we are a family in faith. We are now well on our way. We see the horizon. There is a lot of work to do in the next six or seven months. And it is already happening," Monforton said.
"We have professionals examining the blueprints and preparing to start work by June," said Monforton.
Monforton first announced his plans to maintain the current cathedral in June.
"The diocesan cathedral will remain Holy Name Cathedral in the city of Steubenville. 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 said during a Fornight for Freedom Mass in June.
The bishop was interrupted by applause four times during his closing remarks at the end of that Mass including his promise to make a weekly Mass available from the Cathedral to shut-ins through television.
"We will be installing in 2014 and 2015 Wi-Fi technology," said Monforton.
"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 possible work together with the library and the orthodox church," Monforton said.
Holy Name Catholic Church was built in 1890.
The church on South Fifth Street 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.
(Gossett can be contacted at email@example.com)