Parishioners continue opposition to Notre Dame campus

While the University of Notre Dame has lodged a $17 million development plan for new schools of medicine and nursing on the site of the Sydney's oldest Catholic parish church, disgruntled parishioners are saying that they are being squeezed out.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the privately funded university will spend $6 million to restore the site of the Sacred Heart Church in Darlinghurst, next to St Vincent's Hospital, on top of $11 million to establish the medicine and nursing schools.

But the redevelopment - now before the City of Sydney - has reignited argument about parishioners rights and access to church property.

Under the plans, the presbytery will be leased out as doctors' consulting rooms. The church crypt will house a library. One side of the church will to form part of an enclosed entrance hall.

Parishioner Laelie Schwartz said new plans prepared by Notre Dame showed the church would be partially demolished and overshadowed by buildings.

The university says the parish will have exclusive control over the church and the parish offices, and extensive shared access to the rest of the site.

The parish would have its own facilities, including offices for the parish priest and his secretary, and be encouraged to use university facilities by prior arrangement, the university's spokesman Damian Gleeson said.

"In the case of Sacred Heart Church it is badly degraded and needs structural repairs," Mr Gleeson said. "Without these, there is a safety risk to parishioners and the community. If the church is to survive it is in need of urgent restoration and significant capital expenditure."

The university says the restored church would seat 240 people, double that of the church's largest weekly congregation now. University staff or students would only be able to enter the church via the main entrance on Darlinghurst Road.

Parish peeved as medical schools come muscling in (Sydney Morning Herald 18/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
University of Notre Dame - Darlinghurst

Heritage listing to protect Sydney church (CathNews 15/2/05)
Keating lashes Sydney Archdiocese over heritage threat (CathNews 20/10/04)
Changing heritage status of inner Sydney church (CathNews 25/8/04)
Notre Dame welcomes support for Sydney Campus (CathNews 2/8/04)

20 Feb 2006