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City of Houston Breaks Ground on Memorial Plaza Honoring Late Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza

In a poignant ceremony on December 18, city officials of Houston, Texas, gathered with members of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart to mark the commencement of construction on a new memorial plaza in Downtown Houston. This significant endeavor is dedicated to the memory of Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, a revered figure who passed away in 2022.

Archbishop Fiorenza, the seventh bishop and inaugural archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas, left an indelible mark on the city’s history. The event on December 18 served as a tribute to his influential leadership in anti-poverty and social justice movements.

Fiorenza, one of the esteemed “three amigos” alongside Rev. William Lawson and Rabbi Emeritus Samual Karff, played a pivotal role in advocating for the underprivileged in Houston. The trio worked tirelessly to foster unity among Houstonians of diverse faiths.

The memorial plaza, spanning 60,000 square feet, is set to be located at the intersection of San Jacinto Street and St. Joseph Parkway, opposite the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The site, formerly housing the Co-Cathedral, has undergone demolition to make way for this significant project.

A centerpiece of the plaza will be the Statue of the Sacred Heart, formerly housed in the Co-Cathedral building. It will be relocated to the new plaza, serving as a focal point. Additionally, the memorial will feature 6,000 square feet of public gathering and tribute space, a pavilion, and 140 parking spaces, as outlined by Sacred Heart officials.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who succeeded Fiorenza as the archbishop of the diocese, shared thoughts during the groundbreaking ceremony, emphasizing Fiorenza’s vision for the site.

“It was meant to be a place that beautified our downtown community, that welcomed our archdiocese family and provided a gathering space for prayer, events, and service,” DiNardo stated. “It is therefore only fitting that this plaza be established in his honor and in his memory.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner underscored the enduring impact of Fiorenza’s legacy on the city, describing the late archbishop as “a consummate Houstonian, deeply devoted to this city and its people.” Turner acknowledged Fiorenza’s contributions in areas such as policing reform, addressing housing issues, advocating for immigrants and the homeless, desegregating schools and businesses, and championing resources for the underserved.

The construction of the memorial plaza is being financed through an ongoing capital campaign, which also aims to fund improvements to the Co-Cathedral and Cathedral Center. Officials anticipate completing the plaza by Easter 2024, with a dedication ceremony planned to mark the occasion.