Tornado-damaged Cathedral may face demolition

Bishop Gerard Holohan of the Western Australian Diocese of Bunbury has written a pastoral letter expressing grave concern for St Patrick's Cathedral, which faces the prospect of a demolition order in the wake of the tornado that ripped through Bunbury and a large part of the state's south-west last Monday.

The Bunbury Mail reports that some buildings in the city have already been condemned, and several others, including the historic St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral may also face demolition.

The cathedral received extensive damage including a crack along most of the northern side and damage to brickwork, made worse by concrete cancer.

Bishop Holohan wrote to his people of the shock caused by the devastation to the Cathedral and parish house.

"For many of you, the Cathedral in particular has been a place of joy - where you were married, your children were baptised," he said. "The Cathedral has also been a place of grieving at the funeral of loved ones - and for major diocesan events."

Urging the faithful to face their grief, Bishop Holohan was thankful that there were no human casualties.

"The damaged caused over a few seconds was catastrophic," he said. "The great blessing is that no one was injured... Thank God, the two parishioners praying in the Cathedral were not killed."

Bishop Holohan annoucned that the Cathedral wall facing the city had "moved an inch - which is unbelievable"

"The whole building leaned slightly to the right, and during the day, returned to a slightly distorted shape," he said. "Tiles, bricks and concrete crashed down. Unfortunately, the structural engineer has said that the building is still moving and the cracks are widening."

He said that engineers are still studying the Cathedral structure, and "do not have the information yet to make a decision whether it can be repaired or has to be demolished".

"If you are like me, you will be wishing you knew one way or the other," he said. "The fact is, however, that we cannot know until experts studying the situation present their findings."

Bishop Holohan established a Coordinating Committee for the present and future coordination of matters related to the disaster.

Storm cost spirals (Bunbury Mail 19/5/05)
Statement of the Bishop to Bunbury Parishioners (Diocese of Bunbury 20/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Bunbury - Storm destruction in the Cathedral, Parish House and Surrounds

Centacare service given a new home (The Border Mail 21/5/05)
Catholic community gathers for second session of Diocesan Assembly (Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle 16/5/05)
MP banned from opening school lab (The Australian/Australian Associated Press 22/5/05)
Bishop warns against factionalism (The Tablet 21/5/05)

23 May 2005