The Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola began its history as a parish church established by Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll of the Archdiocese of Miami on June 25th, 1970.
The first pastor (administrator) of the newly formed St. Ignatius parish was Fr. John Mulcahy. From its inception, Fr. Mulcahy felt that the job ahead was more than building a church. He set the tone for what was to come when he declared: “Our job is to build a Christian community, not just a church.” With that philosophy, the parish started with humble beginnings with three Masses celebrated at Palm Beach Gardens High School on July 5th, 1970. Less than two dozen people attended the first Mass. The first committee formed by Fr. Mulcahy was the social committee. Fr. Mulcahy not only began visiting each family in the parish, he began introducing people to one another. He said: “You can’t love your neighbor, unless you know who he is.” This emphasis of getting to know one another was, and continues to be the foundation and strength of our parish family.
The parish continued to grow to over 600 families by 1974. In January of that year, ground was broken on over seven acres of land to build a new multi-purpose building. Eleven months later, in December of the same year at 5 p.m. on December 14 th, more than 500 people attended the first Mass in the new building that would serve as the church and parish hall for nearly ten years. The growth and enthusiasm of the parish remained evident with new ministries being added and attendance increased during the pastorate of Rev. Francis J. Dunleavy, who led the faith community from June 1976 through June of 1978. When the third Pastor, Rev. Frank Flynn arrived in July of that year, the parish had grown such that an associate pastor was needed. Consequently, a campaign was undertaken to construct a new rectory, which was dedicated in 1979. At this point there were over 750 registered families being served. In 1982, after extensive research and parishioner input, Fr. Flynn determined that the parish growth and need was more than sufficient to embark on a campaign to build a new church. The parish had dramatically grown to nearly 2,000 families.
Thus, on Labor Day, 1983, parishioners placed stones in the foundation site of the new church to symbolize their awareness that people are the ‘real stones’ upon which a worship space is built. While under construction, the Vatican announced the formation of the Diocese of Palm Beach and named Most Rev. Thomas V. Daily of the Archdiocese of Boston as its first Bishop. Due to the fact that St. Ignatius was centrally located and accessible and could be modified to meet the requirements for being a Cathedral, it was chosen to serve as the Cathedral of the new five county diocese, with Fr. Frank Flynn now as its first Rector. The Church was dedicated as a Cathedral by Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy of Miami on October 6, 1984 and Most Rev. Thomas V. Daily was installed as the First Bishop of Palm Beach on October 24, 1984. On that day, the Diocese and the Cathedral were placed under the patronage of Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles.
The architecture of the Cathedral building is modern and open. The sloping terracotta tile roof covers pews that are arranged on a sloped floor, stadium style, to provide a greater sense of intimacy and promote better participation. The rear (north) wall of the church is of cut coral stone. The sanctuary was built to rise 75 feet to an open, inverted arch. The Cathedral (including the side chapel) holds 1250 persons.
In August, 1988, Rev. Frank O’Loughlin was named Pastor/Rector. Under his leadership the parish continued to grow and the parishioners that began worshiping together in humble beginnings became more accustomed to ‘sharing’ the parish church with parishioners from around the diocese. Over the years there have been many beautiful and significant liturgical diocesan celebrations that have brought people from across the diocese together to worship. Yet, while ever welcoming, the parish community has never lost its ‘family’ atmosphere and feel. The parish Outreach Program, begun during Fr. Flynn’s tenure, was expanded, reflecting Fr. O’Loughlin’s love for the poor and needy.
In 1992, Rev. James P. Malvey was named Rector of the Cathedral. As Rector, he focused on promoting good business/office practices and lay involvement. He appointed the first lay parish Office Manager. He also established the first 13 member volunteer Finance Council as well as other lay advisory committees. Fr. Malvey also oversaw the refurbishment and re-dedication of the parish Chapel as the Chapel of Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles.
Rev. Msgr. Thomas Klinzing became Pastor/Rector in September of 1996. The Cathedral continued to grow during this period and Msgr. Klinzing was responsible for not only focusing on the spiritual welfare of the parishioners but also for addressing many facilities and maintenance issues as the campus began to age. Of particular note, during pastorate, the beautiful statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was placed in the Church.
Rev. John A. Kasparek became Pastor/Rector in May of 2000. Fr. Kasparek saw the Cathedral parish grow to over 2,700 families. Fr. Kasparek focused on enhancing the liturgy and the overall worship experience. During his time, the music program was expanded and developed. It was though his efforts that the Cathedral was fortunate to acquire the impressive Rodgers Digital Organ, which produces one of the most advanced sounds in digital organ “presence”. The parish also became one of six parishes to construct and run the regional Catholic School of All Saints.
On July 1, 2005 Rev. Thomas E. Barrett became the current Rector of the Cathedral. He was appointed Rector by our present Bishop, The Most Rev. Gerald M. Barbarito. Fr. Barrett had been Pastor of St. Mark Parish in Ft. Pierce, but was happy to come to the Cathedral because it is his home parish and was a place with which he was very familiar. Shortly after his arrival Fr. Barrett, with the support of the Bishop and the community embarked on a much needed and desired renovation of the interior of the Cathedral. The changes to the worship space were enthusiastically received by parishioners and visitors alike. The wood Reardos and Italian marble Sanctuary appointments are more welcoming, warm, and inviting.
The Risen Christ Statue, which was an important part of the history of the Cathedral, was placed in an outdoor shrine facing Military Trail, as a welcoming sign of our community of faith and the love of Christ. The renovation has become the outward sign of a new and forward looking spirit for the Cathedral.
Fr. Barrett continues to make organizational and liturgical changes that he hopes will attract new parishioners and provide for increased ministry opportunities and parish growth. As we celebrate 25 years as a diocesan and Cathedral parish family, we pray for God’s blessings for the future and we will work to continue the family parish and welcoming philosophy upon which St. Ignatius Church was founded.