Archbishop to rule on church fate

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 09:32 19/06/2014
 St Peter Chanel Catholic Church
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ
DECISION PENDING: Tom Hickman, left, and Kevin Loe are parishioners of St Peter Chanel Catholic Church in Ward, which was deemed dangerous after last year’s earthquake.

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The Archbishop of Wellington will decide if the condemned St Peter Chanel Catholic Church in Ward is completely demolished or partially salvaged.

The decision is expected next month ahead of the first anniversary of the Grassmere earthquake.

The small red-brick church, built in 1923, was damaged in the 6.6 earthquake which caused cracks in its tower and water damage from a broken cylinder.

It was deemed dangerous, and Marlborough District Council had requested information about the future of the building.

Father Aidan Kay said he was confident a decision would be nailed down before the first anniversary of the 6.6 magnitude earthquake on August 16.

Kay said a meeting of the church committee on Sunday had sought further information from demolition and salvage companies on whether the church could be demolished or parts could be saved.

Subject to the feedback, a report will be given to the Archbishop of Wellington who will have the final decision. Marlborough is part of the Wellington diocese.

"The church was so shaken up you couldn't patch it," Kay said. "People have come to terms with it. There was a sentimental attachment to the church, for many it was part of their childhood."

The church committee had sought public expressions of interest in structural materials such as windows, doors, the roof and the church bell.

There had been interest from buyers who wanted to snap up a piece of church history, Kay said.

It was agreed the church contents should go where possible to the prospective buyers who lived near Ward.

Before the earthquakes the church had been used predominantly for baptisms, funerals and a monthly mass, Kay said.

"For the future there might be a combined Anglican and Catholic mass. That might be a matter of a survival rather than the community withering on the vine."

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- The Marlborough Express

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