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 of the newly formed St. Ignatius Parish was Father John Mulcahy. From its inception, Father 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.
The first committee formed by Father Mulcahy was the social committee. Father 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 the parish family.
By 1974, the parish grew to more than 600 families. In January of that year, ground was broken on the current site to build a new multi-purpose building. In December, 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 Father Francis J. Dunleavy, who led the faith community from 1976 to 1978. When the third pastor, Father 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 more than750 registered families being served.
In 1982, after extensive research and parishioner input, Father Flynn determined that the parish growth and need was more than enough to embark on a campaign to build a new church. The parish had dramatically grown to nearly 2,000 families. 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. St. Ignatius Parish was chosen to serve as the cathedral of the new five county diocese, with Father Frank Flynn 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.
In August 1988, Father Frank O’Loughlin was named pastor and rector. The parish outreach program, begun during Father Flynn’s tenure, was expanded, reflecting Father 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 and established the first 13-member volunteer finance council, as well as other lay advisory committees. Father Malvey also oversaw the refurbishment and re-dedication of the parish chapel as the Chapel of Our Lady, Queen of the Apostles.
Father John A. Kasparek became pastor and rector in May of 2000. Father Kasparek saw the cathedral parish grow to more than2,700 families. Father 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 rector of the cathedral. Shortly after his arrival, Father Barrett, with the support of Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito and the community, embarked on a much-needed renovation of the interior of the cathedral with wood reredos and Italian marble sanctuary detail. 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. Most recently, Father Barrett saw the completion of the cathedral’s Family Life Center after embarking on the project’s capital campaign in 2015. Today, parishioners enjoy the new Family Life Center for events, fellowship and community outreach.
The Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola is located at 9999 N Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.