Dear Brothers and Sisters
It is my privilege as Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch to advance the planning of the fundraising for the potential rebuilding of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.
This will run alongside the fundraising for the rebuild in our parishes, which has already begun.
Before his death, Bishop Barry Jones, approved a project to restore the central part of the Cathedral, the Nave, for $45m, of which $15m would be from fundraising.
Bishop Barry set this figure to ensure that the insurance proceeds would assist with the rebuild of parish churches and new churches across the Diocese, including churches not damaged by the earthquake, but under the 34% NBS of the building code.
Bishop Barry was aware that restoring the nave was only the first phase of work on the Cathedral. He knew that if the nave was to be restored, then in the future further work would need to be done to the Cathedral.
The Diocese, following engineering work, has established that the whole cathedral can be restored for around $100m. This will require fundraising $70m.
Because Bishop Barry authorised this first work, as Administrator, I am able to continue planning the fundraising for this part of the future work on the Cathedral. This plan will, of course, have to be considered by the new bishop.
Bishop Barry engaged the fundraising firm AskRIGHT, who have considerable experience here and internationally, to oversee the fundraising projects in our Diocese.
There are two arms to this fundraising. One is for the rebuild and strengthening in our parishes including new churches, which has already begun with a pleasing response. To date we have received $1.8million in pledges. The second arm is fundraising for the Cathedral.
We are mindful of the challenge that this represents for us in the Diocese and are appreciative of the response already to this fundraising programme.
For this second arm of fundraising for the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, we are currently approaching suitable people to be both chair and committee members of the Cathedral Fundraising Project. We are also developing an international fundraising strategy for the Cathedral – remembering that benefactors abroad gave generously to build the cathedral 100 years ago.
Our long-term goal is for the cathedral to be once again one of the most beautiful and architecturally significant buildings in New Zealand. This will take many years. The Bishop, when appointed, will undertake consultation on whether this goal is realistic but for now, this is our goal.
As you will know, the process for appointing a new Bishop began a year ago. This is led by the Apostolic Nuncio – the Pope’s representative to the Bishops and to the government in Wellington.
He firstly gathers names by consultation and draws together those who would seem suitable to be a Bishop. then consults widely before sending three names to the Congregation in Rome for consideration. They can ask for more information or further process before making a recommendation to the Pope, who makes a final decision. This process is conducted in secret and can take a considerable time. The length of time we have been waiting is not unusual.
Please continue to pray for the appointment of our new Bishop.
Fr Rick Loughnan