Organisers of centenary celebrations for an historic Marlborough church are hoping for better weather at the start of the Renwick church’s second centenary. The church of St Francis de Sales, Renwick, was opened by the son of one of Marlborough’s early settlers, Archbishop Francis Redwood SM, on 10 May 1907.
A writer of the day said the opening coincided with extremely bad weather.
‘The Wairau River was in high flood and none of the parishioners from across the Wairau River could be present, which must have diminished the congregation considerably.’
The church on the corner of Alma and Clyde Streets forms part of the Catholic parish of St Mary’s, Blenheim. It was named after the patron saint of the archbishop and was built by Mr James McKinley at a cost of £350. The land itself was donated by Dr Renwick.
Largely untouched since it was built, it still retains the original timber linings and pews. Visitors often comment on its charm and value as an historic building. The church has been used in recent years for occasional church services and is a popular choice for weddings. But, with the shortage of priests, Sunday Mass is no longer celebrated regularly.
Parishioners will celebrate the anniversary of the church’s opening on Sunday, 27 May, and anyone who has had an association with the church is invited to participate. There will be a Mass at 11.00am followed by a subscription lunch in a marquee in the church grounds.
It will be an opportunity for anyone who was christened, married or attended the church over the last 100 years to get together once again. Several of the St Mary’s parish priests who have served the parish in recent years will be present. Representing Archbishop John Dew, who is unable to be present, will be Monsignor John Carde, the Vicar General of the archdiocese.
At the lunch following the Mass, a specially baked centenary cake will be cut and a history display board will be erected.
For further information and a registration form, please contact Jocelyn Cresswell 572 8163.