St. Patrick Cathedral kicks off project for new stairs; donor matching funds raised until Dec. 31
Parish hopes to raise $100,000
Editor's note: A local resident is offering a matching grant of up to $35,000 to help fund the Bishop Curlin Commemorative Stair project at St. Patrick Cathedral. For every $2 raised by Dec. 31, the anonymous donor will add $1.
CHARLOTTE — Catholics from around the Diocese of Charlotte will have the opportunity to assist in the efforts to complete a much-needed exterior facelift at St. Patrick Cathedral in the coming months. The cathedral, which is home to the bishop of Charlotte, hosts the annual chrism Mass and many important liturgical celebrations throughout the year.
For years now, the parish building and grounds committee has known that the front steps to the 74-year-old cathedral are in need of significant repair and redesign. Besides the fact that the old staircase and railings are worn and cracked, there is also a great need for a more expansive gathering area outside the cathedral's front doors. The steep staircase presents a danger to anyone who wants to linger outside the cathedral entrance, and brides being wed at the cathedral have to step carefully down the narrow steps if they want to avoid tripping on their long gowns and falling headlong into the street.
Pictured: Charlotte Bishop Emeritus William G. Curlin (left) listens as Father Christopher Roux, rector and pastor of St. Patrick Cathedral, shows His Excellency the plans for the "Bishop Curlin Commemorative Stair" project after the Jubilarians Mass on Sept. 11. Bishop Curlin is marking the 55th anniversary of his priesthood in 2012, and the stair renovation project is being launched in his honor. (SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald.)
Some time ago, a parishioner made a large donation to the cathedral in honor of Bishop Emeritus William G. Curlin, who was bishop of Charlotte from 1994 to 2002. After speaking with Bishop Curlin about the donation, the two decided that the best use of the funds would be to overhaul the front steps and create a more welcoming, attractive entrance for the beloved cathedral. The total cost for the project will be approximately $240,000.
Plans were drawn up but the project was postponed when Bishop Curlin retired in 2002 and the parish decided to proceed instead with construction of the Family Life Center adjacent to the cathedral.
Father Christopher Roux, rector and pastor of the cathedral, recently said the decision was made to resume the stairway renovation effort to honor Bishop Curlin, and it has been named the Bishop Curlin Commemorative Stair project. The project follows on the heels of a similar improvement effort inside the cathedral earlier this year to restore its marble assets and refurbish the sanctuary area.
The new, larger entrance will feature two staircases running down to the left and to the right from the doorway, including several landings so that the steps slope more gently down to the sidewalk and street below. Beautiful details in the entrance's new design showcase symbols of our faith, from the Chi-Rho symbol for Jesus to roses and five-pointed stars.
The front of the staircase will feature a new cathedral sign in cast stone and a cast stone engraving in honor of Bishop Curlin. Another monument will feature a quote from St. Ignatius: "Where the bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be, even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church." Inlaid bricks at the top landing, just outside the front doorway, will honor the cathedral's previous pastors, encircling the diocesan shield and crests of each of the diocese's four bishops.
The new railing will feature a Celtic cross in honor of St. Patrick, a repeated fish pattern symbolizing the 40 days of Lent and woven in a Celtic-knot inspired pattern, and circles representing the Eucharist.
At the sidewalk level will be a meditation bench for passersby, along with a compass design inlaid in the sidewalk to show the cathedral's traditional east-west orientation.
"The original donation for the project was $140,000," said Father Roux. "With those funds still available and the preliminary estimate cost of the project at $240,000, the cathedral needs to raise $100,000 in order to proceed." In return for their donations, supporters can honor family and friends with bricks that will be engraved and used in the renovated staircase.
Bishop Curlin, 85, who still remains active in the diocese by presiding at Masses and visiting the sick in area hospitals and nursing homes, is excited about the renovations.
"As soon as the needed funds are collected, construction can begin. The stairway project is expected to take approximately 10-12 weeks," Father Roux said.
Donors can purchase engraved bricks to be used in the stair project for $100 each. You can make a donation to the brick program or by making a direct donation to the St. Patrick Cathedral Stair renovation project.
For more information about the Bishop Curlin Commemorative Stair project and to contribute to the "Donate a Brick" campaign, go to www.stpatricks.org or call the church office at 704-334-2283.
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer