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New Catholic media studio to open in downtown Rochester

Bishop Robert Barron's Word on Fire Catholic media organization filed for a Rochester building permit this week for a “Word on Fire Rochester Studio Facility on the second floor of the Wells Fargo building” at 21 First St. SW.

New Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester
The new Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Robert Barron, who was appointed by Pope Francis, speaks during a press conference June 2, 2022, at Co-Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin file photo
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ROCHESTER — A media organization led by Bishop Robert Barron of The Diocese of Winona-Rochester is moving ahead with plans to open a new Catholic ministries media studio in downtown Rochester.

Word on Fire, which is separate from the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, filed for a building permit this week for a “Word on Fire Rochester Studio facility on the second floor of the Wells Fargo building ” at 21 First St. SW. The value of the project was listed as $658,679.

That’s the building next to the historic Chateau Theatre on Rochester’s Peace Plaza. Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos., which purchased it for $14.92 million in 2018, recently completed extensive renovations of the complex. It has several spaces for lease.

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Word on Fire has a fundraising page for the project posted on its website.

“Word on Fire is building a new studio in Minnesota so Bishop Robert Barron can continue producing his commentaries, Sunday Sermons, articles, and thought-provoking dialogues that reach millions every month,” according to the page. “Your gift will cover the costs of moving Word on Fire’s studio, equipment, and staff to their new home.”

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Word on Fire, which Bishop Barron founded in 2000, is described as “a nonprofit global media apostolate that supports the work of Bishop Robert Barron and reaches millions of people to draw them into — or back to — the Catholic faith” on the Diocese website.

Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire created the 10-part documentary, “Catholicism,” which was broadcast nationally on public television. Word on Fire is very active online with daily blog posts, articles and video commentaries. On social media, Bishop Barron has more than 3.1 million Facebook followers, 517,000 YouTube subscribers and 349,00 Instagram followers.

Word on Fire has also posted a job opening online for a studio manager to support “the day-to-day operation of Word on Fire’s production studio located in Rochester, MN.”

This is the latest Catholic construction project launched in Rochester.

In 2022, the recently installed Bishop Barron announced plans to build a new, $8 million pastoral center in Rochester to serve as the new diocesan headquarters instead of Winona.

The new pastoral center is being built at the corner of 19th Street Northwest and Jeremiah Lane, near Collins Orthodontics and across the street from Lourdes High School.

That project is expected to be completed by Easter 2024.

Heard Around Rochester - Jeff Kiger.png

Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, "Heard Around Rochester," in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. The opinions of my employer do not necessarily reflect my opinions. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.
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