Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Cathedral Inspirations.

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Cathedral Inspirations.

Article excerpt

Don't try finding Milwaukee's newly renovated Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist by driving into town and looking for a spire. Milwaukee's heavily spired skyline challenges even the most ardent church searcher to pinpoint this cathedral by steeple alone. Even movie theaters sport spires here.

Don't give up the search, though. It's definitely worth the time and energy to get to 812 Jackson Street. This cathedral, part of a square block of church buildings, stands in testimony to a successful marriage between classical and contemporary art and architecture.

The altar has been brought forward from the sanctuary at the far east end into the main space. The ambo, well behind the altar and elevated, is carved from the same white marble as the altar. A baptismal pool and font, on the same axis as altar and ambo, greet the faithful and about-to-be-faithful at the main entry. Upholstered chairs seat worshipers. A striking sculpture of cross and crown hangs over the main altar. Two other contemporary works of art grace this cathedral--statues of Pope John XXIII and of Mary wearing a Jewish prayer shawl, as was the custom for mothers of rabbis.

The previous bishops of Milwaukee look upon this sacred space from high on the side walls of the cathedral. I recognized the portraits of Samuel Stritch and Albert Meyer--both went on to become endearing cardinals of my hometown, Chicago--and Rembert Weakland, whose guiding vision brought this cathedral renovation to reality.

What is attached to the cathedral is equally impressive. The cathedral block that once housed a convent and school has been resurrected as a center for the hungry and homeless and as an educational center for single mothers. A glass-walled atrium connects the cathedral building to these other buildings and also functions as a gathering space overlooking the cathedral courtyard. …

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