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The Cathedral Parish of St. Raphael is seeking city permission to demolish two vacant Downtown buildings to make way for a new cathedral to replace the structure demolished by an arson fire in 2005.

The St. Raphael congregation has informed the city it will seek a permit to demolish the St. Raphael Rectory, 204 W. Main St., and the former parish school building, 31 S. Henry St., old structures that share a common wall on the same block as the former cathedral.

The congregation is clearing the space to create the largest footprint possible for a new cathedral and its associated buildings, Msgr. Kevin Holmes said.

"Ideally, we'd like to have the whole parcel clear and be able to design a new cathedral to suit current and future needs," Holmes said.

The St. Raphael congregation was left homeless after the 2005 fire. As the designated cathedral for the entire 11-county Madison Catholic Diocese, the church housed the bishop's chair, the symbol of his authority.

The congregation has not formulated plans for a new cathedral and has no timeline for construction, Holmes said. Until a project moves forward, the property would be used as greenspace with possibility of a small community garden, he said.

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