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Perth Cathedral set for completion

Perth's Archbishop Barry Hickey has said the design for the completion of St Mary's Cathedral will be chosen within the next few months, and work could start before the end of next year.

The Archbishop said that four designs prepared by local architects would be displayed in the Cathedral after Christmas and in other parishes in the Archdiocese in January.

The architects had been asked to prepare concept plans for "a building of awe and beauty, respectful of the past, and suited to the needs of today and the future".

Planning has been in progress since 1999 when a bequest of $2 million from the estate of Jim and Alice Hassell had re-opened the possibility of giving the Archdiocese a complete Cathedral.

Perth's original church is what is now known as the Pro-Cathedral of St John the Evangelist in Victoria Square. The first Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (usually known as St Mary's) was built on the Cathedral site at the top of Murray Street in 1865. It was to have been replaced in the late 1920s by a new building designed by architect Michael Cavanagh, but shortage of funds led to a combination of the two.

The sanctuary of the old cathedral was replaced by a new sanctuary and transept opened on May 4, 1930. This was connected to the body of the old Cathedral, but nobody then or since has considered the amalgam to be a complete cathedral, architecturally, aesthetically or liturgically.

Planning for the completed Cathedral has been under the chairmanship of the Dean of the Cathedral, Monsignor Thomas McDonald who said the new building will integrate the three eras of building - the 1860s, the 1920s and the present.

The completed building will provide permanent seating for 1200 (currently about 1000) with clear sight lines to the sanctuary from all seats. There would be wide aisles, no columns, improved acoustics, more parking and an underground Parish Centre and related facilities.

Media Statement from Archbishop Barry Hickey, Catholic Archbishop of Perth (12/12/03)

Archdiocese of Perth | Decision on Cathedral Imminent (8/12/03)
City of Perth: Victoria Square Heritage Project
St Mary's Cathedral, Perth (Catholic Church Insurances 'Experiences')
Dedication of rebuilt Parramatta cathedral (CathNews 1/12/03)

16 Dec 2003