A ‘fitting tribute’: Co-Cathedral, Archdiocese announce Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza Plaza

March 14, 2023

A rendering depicts a version of the new Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza Plaza project at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston. The new plaza will be located south of the Co-Cathedral and will be bound by Jefferson, Fannin, Pierce and San Jacinto streets and include a pedestrian-friendly plaza near the entrance of the Co-Cathedral on Jefferson Street. (Renderings courtesy of Studio Red Architects)

HOUSTON — After responding to numerous challenges over the last 15 years – including Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the 2008 financial crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic – the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is moving forward to complete the master plan for the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart first developed over two decades ago.

The Archdiocese will redevelop the block directly south of the Co-Cathedral building across St. Joseph Parkway, renaming it The Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza Plaza. The project will add new green space, new parking for 144 vehicles, as well as a public gathering and tribute area.

“It is most fitting to honor Archbishop Fiorenza’s memory and create a beautiful gathering space for the parishioners of Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral,” Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said.

Following consultation and preparation with the Archdiocese, the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart announced the plaza plan to their parish community during Masses on Feb. 26.

“The project takes account of the needs of the Co-Cathedral parish and mission to the Archdiocese while paying fitting tribute to Archbishop Fiorenza and his legacy in the Church and in the Houston community,” said Father Jeff Bame, Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart rector.

In 1958, Bishop Wendelin Nold was instructed by Pope Paul VI to designate a “co-cathedral” of convenience in preparation for 1959’s designation of the city of Houston as an episcopal see and the renaming of the Diocese of Galveston to the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. Sacred Heart Church was chosen by Bishop Nold due to its proximity to the newly acquired downtown chancery offices for the diocese.

Over the following 49 years, Sacred Heart served as the co-cathedral despite the fact that, unlike St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica in Galveston, it had never been constructed for this purpose — it was a small parish church that has been retrofitted many times over its history.

In 2000, Archbishop Fiorenza announced the intention to construct a true co-cathedral church fitting for its mission, culminating in the dedication of the new Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart by Cardinal DiNardo on April 2, 2008. Archbishop Fiorenza died Sept. 19, 2022. He was 91.

Throughout his priesthood, the pastoral care Archbishop Fiorenza brought to countless disadvantaged and underserved communities, combined with his fierce and relentless commitment to social justice, served to improve the human condition throughout the Houston region and beyond.

As Archbishop Fiorenza once said, “to separate faith from action essentially is not biblical, nor is it Catholic.”

For information about the Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza Plaza project, visit www.sacredhearthouston.org/plaza.