By: Dominique Johnson
Three years after the first town hall meeting proposing renovation options for the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Juneau, a second town hall meeting was held to share the option approved by Bishop Andrew Bellisario, C.M. and the plans to move forward with the renovation.
At the end of April, the bishop wrote a letter to Father Pat Casey, OMI, pastor of the Cathedral, the Parish Finance Council, the Parish Council and the projects Steering Committee approving design option B for the Cathedral renovation.
At the meeting, Father Pat emphasized that the reasoning for the renovation is to make the Cathedral “accessible and barrier-free.” Currently, if a person is in a wheelchair or has mobility issues, access into the worship space and the restrooms are difficult. With the approved renovation plan parishioners would be able to access the church from the sidewalk and take an elevator from the Mary Joyce room to the Narthex.
With the expansion of the church to the sidewalk, additional space will be created for additional pews and the addition of a baptismal font. The foundational concerns of the building will also be corrected. However, the choir loft would be removed, and the bell tower moved to the Gold Street side of the church.
Before construction can begin the parish must raise $1.7 million of the estimated $2.2 million cost of the project. In his letter to Father Pat and the parish, Bishop Bellisario said, “the parish is principally responsible for its own fundraising efforts to meet its capital needs,” and that renovation of the Cathedral is not a diocesan project.
So far, the parish has raised around $600,000 for the project and will begin pushing for more fundraising efforts now that they have the green light. Some of the proposed ideas at the town hall meeting were silent auctions, fundraising dinners and additional second collections.
At the end of the meeting, Father Pat reminded those in attendance that, “We were left this gift that we use every week” and that as a parish “we want to leave a similar gift for those to come.” The parish hopes to have the funds for the renovation raised in the next three years.