Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral – Raleigh, NC

Date of Review: I attended the noon Mass for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time on January 24th, 2021. Fr. Nwafor presided assisted by Deacon Alig.

Architecture: New (groundbreaking in 2015, completed in 2017) Romanesque Revival Cathedral which replaced Sacred Heart Cathedral (now a parish church), this is surprisingly the fifth largest Cathedral in the US. Despite its relatively new construction, it was built in the traditional cruciform layout with the altar to the East.

Celebrant(s): Fr. Nwafor, who was recently ordained in 2020, presided. He was more audible and understandable than many non-immigrant priests, even though English is his second language. Deacon Alig proclaimed the Gospel and preached the Homily. The Homily focused on the need to run towards God and do his will, unlike Jonah who ran from God until after his experience being swallowed by the whale/fish. Jonah had the time spent in the fish to repent. The Deacon shared a personal story of how he had a short temper with his kids and wife. After he got done with his “non grace filled response,” he had to spend time to think and prepare to admit his fault and find a place of grace and repent. He then took action to respond differently, and like Jonah, find a way to find our way back to following the will of God.

Congregation: Well attended mass, and unlike many churches, the congregants mostly arrived 5+ minutes before the start of the service.

Decor: Stained glass windows above and clear windows to allow light in both low and in the dome. It almost seems Jeffersonian or Roman (I guess that makes sense given the architectural style) on the inside. A number of statues of the Saints, Mary, and Christ adorn the walls, interspersed with the Stations of the Cross. The marble altar is beautiful, and the interior is well lit.

Location: The Cathedral is outside the city center, but still easily accessible. Unlike most Cathedrals in metropolitan areas, the grounds are substantial, allowing for ample room for congregants to park on-site.

Musicians: Female soloists, who also sang as an ensemble accompanied by an organist. The organist was excellent but did drown out the singers at times, and the singers had some weak points.

Volunteers: Several greeters on the way in, and a large narthex to allow pre- and post-mass activity without disrupting the worship space. More Eucharistic Ministers than I have seen anywhere since the start of the pandemic and a number of ushers as well.

Overall: Wow. Huge, nice, and traditionally designed new Cathedral with a great congregation, in a diocese where Catholics make up only about 5% of the population. The $46 million price tag to build this was well worth it for this community.


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