Part 4: 1954-1995

After the retirement of Archbishop Rohlman, Leo Binz – who had been the Coadjutor Archbishop since 1949 – became the next Archbishop of Dubuque.  During Binz’s time in the Archdiocese Wahlert High School was completed.  Binz was reassigned to the Saint Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese in 1961.

Following the departure of Binz, Bishop James J. Byrne, who was the Bishop of the Boise City, Idaho Diocese, was named the seventh Archbishop of Dubuque on March 7, 1962.  He was formally installed in office on May 8, 1962.

Bishop Byrne attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council.  Following the Council, he was responsible for implementing the reforms of Vatican II in the Archdiocese of Dubuque.  This included major changes to the liturgy, such as facing the people and using the vernacular instead of Latin in Mass.  Archbishop Byrne celebrated the first such Mass in the Cathedral.

During Byrne’s tenure as Archbishop, the red brick facade of the Cathedral was replaced with stone.  Also the entryways were enclosed, and an elevator was added to make the Cathedral more accessible in 1964.

In 1976 the school was closed.  Children were sent to other nearby parish schools, and older children attended Wahlert High School.  Even though the school was closed, the parish remains steadfast in its commitment to education of Catholics of all ages – from children to adults.

After over 21 years in office, Archbishop Byrne retired in August of 1983.  He was followed by Daniel Kucera, who was installed as Archbishop on December 20, 1983.  Born William Kucera, he took the name Daniel when he became a Brother in the Order of Saint Benedict.

In 1983 the Blessed Sacrament Chapel was remodeled into a gathering space.  It was renamed as the Cathedral center.  This was done in response to a need the parish had for such spaces.

In 1986, the Cathedral underwent extensive renovations.  It had been fifty years since the last renovations, and there were a number of practical, as well as liturgical reasons for performing these modifications.  The renovations included;

  • A new baptismal font near the front of the church.
  • Removal of the dividers between the pews to eliminate a fire hazard.  Some of the dividers were used as wainscoting in the entry way.
  • Removal of the communion rail, and extending the sanctuary out further in order to bring Mass closer to the people.
  • The creation of a new Blessed Sacrament Chapel along the rear wall of the Sanctuary.  This was accomplished by the placement of a large wooden screen in the sanctuary, parts of which came from the communion rail and the paneling alongside the original main altar.  The main altar was kept intact due to its historical significance.
  • The Archbishop’s throne was made into a simpler and moveable thrones.  Most times it is placed along the wooden screen, just to the left of the center gates.  It is moved up to where Father normally sits when Archbishop is presiding at a Mass.  Bishop Loras’ crosier is kept next to the throne.
  • Creation of new entryways at the front of the church where the side altars were originally.  This was accomplished by removing the tables, and opening new entryways.  The sacristy was divided in half to make room for the Corridor of the Last Supper – a passageway from the church to the Cathedral Center on the northern side of the building.  Another passage way – the Corridor of the Saints – was built along the southern side of the building.
  • New carpeting throughout the church.  The same color is used throughout the building to signify that the entire building is holy – not just certain areas.
  • The creation of a choir area along the southern wall of the nave near the front of the church.
  • The lighting was replaced with new, indirect lighting mounted on the capitals.
  • The stations of the cross were lowered, and the framing around the stations was modified.
  • In 2005, our Baptismal Font was remodeled and expanded to include a pool to accommodate Baptism by immersion for older children and adults.  The font was completed in time for the Easter celebrations at the Cathedral when it was used to Baptize several people into the Catholic faith.

Further improvements were made in 1991 when the Cathedral’s organ was restored after several years of an organ fund drive.  This organ is recognized as one of the finer instruments in the city.  The organ’s three keyboard moveable console is located in the choir area.  Most of the organ is located in the galley, with a division of the organ in the choir area.


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