Drilling begins, Sacred Heart Cathedral to be built on rock

Jim Wogan Cathedral, Diocese of Knoxville, News


Merit Construction workers begin drilling piers for the foundation of the new Sacred Heart Cathedral. (Photo: Pam Rhoades)

The symbolism of the day can’t be denied.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus told St. Peter “Upon this rock, I will build my church.”

The Diocese of Knoxville and the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus continue to carry out that command, literally.

On a cool and rainy day, workers from Merit Construction positioned a heavy rig into place, and began the process of drilling 30 foot steel piers into the bedrock the lies below the construction site of the new Sacred Heart Cathedral.  The process will take weeks to complete– with 119 piers forming what essentially will be the foundation of the new worship space.

The campus of the original Sacred Heart Cathedral, built as a parish church in 1956, is changing shape almost daily.

Before pier construction could take place, thousands of square yards of excavated dirt was moved into place on the construction site.

“This is a significant day for the Diocese of Knoxville.  The cathedral is the mother church for each of our 51 parishes and missions,” Bishop Richard F. Stika said.  “The fact that we’re literally building the cathedral on rock is very special and significant in so many ways.  Someday soon we will place a marble stone, blessed by Pope Francis himself, in the entrance of the new Sacred Heart Cathedral. I pray for the continued safety of the workers and for all the faithful of the Diocese of Knoxville.”

Groundbreaking for the cathedral took place on April 18 with a host of civic and Catholic dignitaries helping.

Bishop Stika was joined by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Cardinal Justin Rigali, Father David Boettner, vicar general of the Diocese of Knoxville and rector of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Tennessee football Coach Butch Jones, among many others who helped.

For more coverage, including videos of the New Sacred Heart Cathedral project, please click here.