Looking Back

WelCom October 2020 Last month’s WelCom profiled the parish of Pungarehu and Opunake. This historic photograph was taken on the occasion of the Opunake presbytery and convent grand opening in…

Looking Back Archdiocese of Wellington
Archbishop Francis Redwood sm, local priests and leaders in the Opunake Catholic community, at the opening on the Opunake presbytery and convent, 1903. Photo: Marist Archives

WelCom October 2020

Last month’s WelCom profiled the parish of Pungarehu and Opunake. This historic photograph was taken on the occasion of the Opunake presbytery and convent grand opening in 1903.

The opening of a new presbytery and convent on 6 October, 1903 was cause for great jubilation among the Catholic community at Opunake and surrounding areas. The arrival of Archbishop Francis Redwood sm signified the importance of the occasion.

The Archbishop arrived at the new presbytery on the preceeding afternoon where he was the guest of parish priest, Fr C Cognet sm. Owing to a sudden downpour of rain, the planned welcoming event had to be abandoned. The following day the Archbishop administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to about 50 children in the parish church. 

As reported in The Opunake Times, ‘the boys all wore white silk scarves and the girls looked very nice dressed in white and wore white veils and wreaths’.

The new presbytery and new convent were both decorated in greenery and on the side of the convent was the motto: Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domine. Between the convent and presbytery, an arch was decorated with the Archbishop’s coat of arms and his motto, O crux, ave, spes unica (hail to the cross, our only hope) and on the other side was shown in large letters, Cead mille failthe (Irish phrase meaning ‘a hundred thousand welcomes’).

In the afternoon Archbishop Redwood formally opened and blessed the presbytery and convent. In the course of the speeches, the ‘zealous industry and charity’ of the Sisters of the Mission were warmly extolled, as was the ‘zeal and industry’ of the parish priest, Fr Cognet. A collection was taken up afterwards which raised 65 pounds and 13 shillings.