10 June 2010
Archbishop John Dew, the parish priest of St Mary’s, Nelson, Fr Raymond Soriano, and St Joseph’s School principal Mike Burton, arrived at the opening of new school buildings last month in a re-enactment of Fr Garin’s arrival in the town 160 years ago.
St Joseph’s senior pupils met them on the waterfront and accompanied them on the three-kilometre walk along the Maitai River to the school.
The opening of the new administration block and hall for the school and parish on Saturday May 8 marks the culmination of a highly successful collaboration. This initiative has produced the most innovative and exciting new parish-school development to date, which neither could have provided without the support of the other. The combined facilities are an example of how Catholic education, ‘integral to the mission of the church’ (Pope Benedict XVI) involves the whole Nelson community.
In 2007, Catholic Schools Board Limited (CSBL) was involved in planning the administrative upgrade for St Joseph’s School, when the St Mary’s Parish community decided to provide extra funding to include the redevelopment of parish facilities which would then be incorporated into the building.
More than 600 supporters, parishioners, families and friends, including local principals and clergy, joined St Joseph’s pupils and staff to celebrate the opening of their new facilities.
Local Maori representative Miraka Norgate led the official party onto the site. The official party included Archbishop John, the Board of Trustees and parish chair, Graham Warner, Catholic Schools Board CEO Mary Neazor, the Vicar for Education Jenny Gordon, Mike Burton, Fr Raymond, Nelson City Councillor Aldo Miccio, parish representative Stephanie Fisk, architect Les Clapcott and Kevin Grace from CSBL.
Graham Warner praised the architect’s vision and the cooperation of all those involved. Archbishop John and Fr Raymond both stressed the benefits for parish and school of the collaborative approach. Mike Burton spoke of the skills of all trades involved and how successfully the builders had managed the project.
The children of St Joseph’s and the parish’s Filipino community entertained with song and dance.
After Archbishop John had cut the official ribbon and blessed the complex the crowd of some 600 shared afternoon tea in the new hall, many commenting on the great acoustics.
The 1.2 million dollar facility incorporates a hall with many modern features, dual school-parish administration areas, generous meeting rooms, a well-appointed kitchen, principal’s office and an office for the parish priest off a joint reception area, plus a sick bay, toilets and several storage areas.
The builders started demolishing the 1930s hall in June 2009 and finished at the end of April.