At a St. Paul the Apostle parish town hall meeting on May 14, Bishop Edward J. Burns announced his intention to petition the Holy See for a ruling that would elevate St. Paul the Apostle Church in Juneau to the status of Co-Cathedral. The current Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in downtown Juneau would retain its title as Cathedral, and continue to host smaller diocesan liturgies when possible.
During a previous community meeting in early April at the Cathedral of the Nativity parish hall, parishioners heard from architects and liturgical consultants assisting the Cathedral Renovation Steering Committee about the structural and space issues inherent with the current Cathedral in downtown Juneau. The consultants, MRV Group and Fr. Thomas Lucas SJ, recommended that the historic Cathedral of the Nativity be renovated and restored, but those improvements would not change the building’s inability to serve the space and liturgical needs of a true Cathedral. And further, that such a structure should be located elsewhere in the Juneau area, suggesting that St. Paul’s was the obvious and likely choice.
After allowing a period in April for community response and input, Bishop Burns has evaluated the situation and chosen to move forward with the intention of naming St. Paul’s as Co-Cathedral, and allowing the present downtown Cathedral to retain its current title.
The process of a church being elevated to Co-Cathedral status requires official action from the Vatican following a written petition by the diocesan bishop or archbishop. Burns estimates the process could take up to a year. In Anchorage, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church was recently elevated to the status of Co-Cathedral earlier this year.
Addressing comments and concerns from those present at the St. Paul’s town hall meeting, Bishop Burns made clear that the Diocese was at the beginning of this process, and that St. Paul the Apostle parish would not have to bear any potential financial burden alone in the event that the new Co-Cathedral designation required any structural changes to the Church building. St. Paul the Apostle parish continues to work at paying off the financial note incurred in 2001 for the construction of its present Church.