Cathedral launches campaign to Restore, Renew, Rejoice
By Catholic Spirit Staff
St. Mary Cathedral in Austin has launched a capital campaign, Restore Renew Rejoice, to complete the final phase of an ongoing effort that began more than 10 years ago. The $2.5 million capital campaign will address restoration and renewal needs of the historic cathedral, as well as retire debt incurred for repairs during this time.
The Cathedral’s origins date back to the 1850s, when Austin had a population of 600. Today, St. Mary Cathedral continues to be an active and vibrant parish and a part of Austin’s history. It sits in the busiest section of Austin and is within walking distance of the Texas State Capitol.
As with any building from the 1870s, the Cathedral has been challenged by time. The restoration efforts began back in 2003, when a large piece of plaster fell from around the Immaculate Conception window down to the sanctuary.
“When work commenced to repair the window and the plaster around it, other structural needs began to surface: the vaults over the congregation in the nave were determined to be unsafe; the roof was leaking, and windows, including the Immaculate Conception window, were loosely held together,” said Father Albert Laforet, rector of the Cathedral.
In 2009, when the bells were replaced with a new digital system, the wood supporting the bells was found to have deteriorated to a point that the whole structure was in danger of falling. Then in 2011, a piece of stone fell from the bell tower, barely missing a parishioner and her child. As work began on the tower, additional major problems were uncovered needing extensive repairs including a collapsing rose window and four heavy stone crosses that were in danger of falling.
To address these needs, the Cathedral has launched a three-year campaign with three clear objectives: retire the remaining debt incurred over the years for needed repairs; meet immediate safety needs including the roof, handicapped ramp and sidewalks, and re-lead and repair the stained glass windows in the nave.
“Generations have built and maintained this beautiful Cathedral over its long history. Now it is this generation’s turn to restore and renew our Cathedral just as past generations have sacrificed,” explained Father Laforet. “It is an opportunity to be a part of history.”
For more information on how to participate in the Restore Renew Rejoice Capital Campaign, visit www.smcaustin.org or call (512) 476-6182.