WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Historic Blenheim church ‘making do’ in face of quake risks

Dianne Howard
2 August 2012

altThe recent closing of a number of churches due to possible earthquake risk, has affected parishioners all over the archdiocese.

St Mary’s Church in Blenheim was no exception. Parishioners felt sadness and disbelief at the decision to close the church for an indeterminate period while inspections were carried out and, if necessary, remedial work completed.

The present church, built in 1878, has a Historic Places classification and 20 years ago was completely refurbished and strengthened. We are all hoping and praying that a detailed examination will prove that a major upgrade will not be necessary to bring the church up to the current standards needed to ensure our safety in the event of a major earthquake.

We are fortunate in having a large parish hall so that Sunday Masses can still be celebrated, and other denominations have offered their facilities for funerals and weddings.

The hall is used by the school during the day and several community organisations in the evenings. This means that every Saturday, the hall has to be set up for Mass and dismantled again every Sunday.

An army of volunteers turns up each weekend to carry out these tasks. Some come each week, others are rostered on once or twice a month – they shift staging for the altar, and put out 400 chairs, music facilities, speaker system, flowers, banners and so on, all to make it as homely and church-like as possible.

We thank them all for their incredible generosity and hard work: it’s a true example of cooperation and a desire to use their gifts in a practical way and we ask God’s blessings on them.