Govt gives $1.5 million to restore greenstone Cathedral

Catholics in Goulburn, NSW, are drinking top of the shelf whisky after the Federal Government set aside $1.5 million towards a $5 million fundraising campaign to finance the restoration of the world's only greenstone cathedral.

Ex-Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer heads an impressive list of patrons for the project to restore the Old Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul's.

Goulburn parish priest, Fr Tony Percy, said that the government grant gets the "snowball rolling" for the project, which was launched earlier on 1 June in the Great Hall of Parliament House, Canberra.

"You're dealing with a building that was built in 1871 through to 1887 and it's actually older than St Mary's in Sydney," Fr Percy told ABC News

"It's a very, very historic building, so it ties us into the past. We say in the church our memory's like a springboard, we're able to look at what's been done in the past and build on it and launch into the future."

"We will gather a lot of momentum from the Federal Government's generosity," he added in a statement. Father Percy said that all levels of Government were being asked to pitch in. The State and Local Governments will now be approached, as will private donors - both large and small.

Fr Percy said that giving generously to the project was made very attractive, since the National Trust of Australia NSW has granted the project full tax deductibility.

"We are asking people to consider our one thousand club; 1000 people giving $1000 equals $1 million. ... Of course many won't be able to afford a thousand bucks, but they can consider prayerfully what is within their means," Fr Percy told Catholic Voice.

"The restoration of this truly historic building will be a boost not only for the Catholic Community, but for all people who believe in God and for people of goodwill," Fr Percy added.

He said, "as Australia's first inland city, we here in Goulburn have a very deep responsibility to make sure the great symbols of our city and nation - such as our historic churches - are made available to the succeeding generations in the best possible condition."

"As the only greenstone Cathedral of its type in the world, Goulburn City will benefit enormously from the restoration work." Fr Percy said the Cathedral would host prayer and catechesis sessions during World Youth Day's "Days in the Diocese".

Fr Percy says he hopes to start tours of the Cathedral, as well as Anglican and Uniting churches in Goulburn.

He says the restoration will give a huge uplift to the drought-affected community.

"I got a bottle of blue label whisky given to me some time ago for a baptism I did and I handed it graciously to a master builder in the parish who's very generous and he said he'd only open it on the occasion of some major celebration, so it's about to be opened," he concluded.

Media Release (St Peter and Paul's Parish, 18/10/06)
$1.5m to go to Goulburn cathedral restoration (ABC News Online, 16/10/06)
Many backers for old cathedral appeal (Catholic Voice, October 2006)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Canberra Goulburn Archdiocese

18 Oct 2006