Bishop W. Shawn McKnight has set May 5, 2023, as the date for the Rite of Rededication for the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
The diocese is planning a series of events surrounding the rededication, allowing everyone the opportunity to celebrate the successful completion of this major, 16-month renovation and expansion.
Due to limited, invitation-only seating, the Rite of Rededication will be livestreamed online at 10:30 a.m. on May 5.
The Cathedral of St. Joseph is the spiritual home for the more than 75,000 Catholics who reside in the Jefferson City diocese, which covers 38 counties in central and northeastern Missouri.
The approximately $15 million project addresses numerous mechanical and accessibility issues within the structure while greatly enhancing the cathedral’s hospitality and spiritual functionality.
The rededication will also mark the unveiling of new artwork and liturgical features that more fully reflect the beauty of the Catholic faith — as well as vividly tell the story of this diocese as the people seek to enter into a new era of thriving Catholic life.
“The rededication of our beloved Cathedral of St. Joseph symbolizes the start of a bright new chapter for the Diocese of Jefferson City,” said Bishop McKnight.
“This moment in our history signifies a time of rebirth, renewal and rededication to our church and faith,” he stated. “As we once again open the doors to our cathedral, everyone is invited to experience the beauty of our Catholic faith — and we joyfully welcome home all who have been away.
“Let our worship in the Cathedral of St. Joseph bring greater glory to God and more fully enable us to lead souls to his mercy,” he said.
While there were originally hopes the project would be completed in early 2023, shortages and supply-chain issues ended up pushing the rededication to a providential date — the cathedral was first dedicated on May 5, 1974.
That means the anniversary of the dedication and the anniversary of the rededication will always fall on the same day going forward.
That anniversary is celebrated as a feastday throughout the diocese and a solemnity at the Cathedral.
In addition, everyone is invited to come see the renewed Cathedral of St. Joseph in person during an open house event on the afternoon of Sunday, May 7. Open house details will be announced soon.
“This is a historic time for our diocese and also our parish,” said Fr. Louis Nelen, rector of the Cathedral and pastor of the 2,500-member Cathedral Parish.
“I am looking forward to welcoming everyone back home for Mass at our Cathedral of St. Joseph,” he said. “While we couldn’t have the Cathedral open for Holy Week, we are happy we will be back inside by the end of the Easter season.”
Parishioners have been gathering in a school gymnasium for Sunday Masses during construction.
“We thank God for the many blessings that allowed us to undertake this ambitious project,” said Fr. Nelen. “While the past year has been difficult for our parish family, we know that our sacrifices today will be beneficial for generations to come.
“Our parish community stands ready to welcome everyone who wishes to visit our magnificent cathedral and join us as we praise God’s love and grace,” he added.
The renovations are entirely funded by generous donors, including lay Catholics, deacons and priests who sent gifts directly in support of the renovation, going above their regular support for their own parishes.
In addition, the Cathedral Parish funded the significant improvements to the community space in the Undercroft, located below the Cathedral.
Jefferson City-based Sircal Contracting is serving as the general contractor for the renovation. In addition to leading the construction work, the project has involved coordinating with artists from the local region and around the world.
“It has been an honor for our company and our skilled tradesmen to work inside and outside the Cathedral of St. Joseph alongside so many talented individuals,” said Chris Hentges, president of Sircal Contracting, Inc.
He said the project has been a rewarding challenge, both in the detail and complexity of work, and the pandemic-related issues that have affected the entire construction industry.
“We are taking the time to complete the renovations with the utmost quality and care, and the finished product will be breathtaking,” said Mr. Hentges.
As the celebration of the completion of the renovation approaches, Bishop McKnight is calling everyone in the diocese to join together in safeguarding this gift for future generations.
Bishop McKnight has established a new Cathedral Preservation Fund, a forward-looking fund that will pay for major repairs and extraordinary expenses at the cathedral in the years and decades to come.
“Even as we enjoy this moment and appreciate all God has enabled us to accomplish, we should also look forward,” said Bishop McKnight.
“As we open this new chapter in the history of our diocese, I am calling everyone to come together behind protecting and preserving the gift of our renewed cathedral,” he stated.
“The Cathedral of St. Joseph belongs to all of us,” he said. “Working together toward its safekeeping can unite us as a diocese as we celebrate this historic rededication.”
Mr. Luecke is communication director for the Jefferson City diocese.