Light Returning to the Harbour of Memories

WelCom July 2020: Fr James Lyons  After two years in a ‘cloud of unknowing’, the light is starting to break through for Wellington’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. The first stage in…

WelCom July 2020:

Light Returning to the Harbour of Memories Archdiocese of Wellington
Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.
Photo: WelCom

Fr James Lyons 

After two years in a ‘cloud of unknowing’, the light is starting to break through for Wellington’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The first stage in restoring the 120-year old spiritual home of the Archdiocese is due to commence over the next two months.

An engineering report determining the cathedral would probably not survive a severe earthquake, forced its closure in July 2018. A temporary fix, early 2019, enabled the adjacent Blessed Sacrament Chapel and Connolly Hall to be reopened, but the major work could not proceed without considerable funding.

The Cathedral Restoration Committee has now raised close to $2.25 million, which, in addition to a $500,000 Archdiocesan loan, has enabled Sacred Heart Parish to go ahead with the required seismic strengthening work and roof replacement. 

It is anticipated the completion of this first stage will see the cathedral reopening in June next year, the month of the Sacred Heart.

Meanwhile, a major fund-raising programme will target a further $5.5m for the restoration of the historic Hobday Organ, together with interior and exterior refurbishment of the church.

While it is appreciated the widespread job losses and social disruption resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, make this a difficult – perhaps even an insensitive – time for fund-raising, it is important to do our best to preserve this unique and culturally significant building.

Raised on the site of the cathedral destroyed by fire in 1898, Sacred Heart Cathedral is much more than ‘bricks and mortar’. It is the continuation of the commitment of those who brought the Gospel to this part of the world and our link with them; it is the symbol of the servant-leadership of our Archbishop; it is the spiritual home and the harbour of memories for countless individuals and families.

For Wellington city, the cathedral is a favoured venue for orchestra and choral work. With outstanding acoustics and ambiance, it is highly valued for both broadcast recording and live performances. A recent grant of $120,000 from the City Council gives more than a token endorsement.

WelCom will carry updates to keep readers informed about this project. To contribute towards the restoration please contact:  Jean Sloan, Campaign Director, Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish, PO Box 1937, Wellington 6140; email cathedral.parish@wn.catholic.org.nz or ph 027 544 587; website www.mcshwellington.org 

Fr James Lyons is Chair, Cathedral Fundraising Campaign.