Cathedrals to rise across the continent

Bunbury diocese has announced that it has raised over $11 million towards a new cathedral in the west coast regional city as the Wollongong diocese released plans to renew the steel city's dilapidated St Francis Xavier cathedral precinct.

The Illawarra Mercury reports that the concept plan provides for a new Wollongong cathedral building that will seat up to 1000 people, a school, accommodation, offices and a function centre. A cafe and tourist facility may also be included to help finance the project.

Bishop Peter Ingham said the church land had long been in dire need of an upgrade.

"It's important we develop a spiritual centre that not only Catholics, but the whole community can be proud of," he said. "Council have big plans for the city centre and it is important the precinct reflects the general area."

However, he added the site would remain "an oasis for people wanting respite from their busy lives".

In a statement, Bishop Ingham said that the Cathedral precinct is a site of significance for both the Catholic community and the wider Wollongong community.

A consultation process is now under way to ensure that any future development will reflect the religious and historical significance of this iconic landmark in the City of Wollongong.

Bishop Ingham added that if the Church proceeds with this plan, it would probably be built in stages.

Meanwhile, across the continent, Bunbury's planned new cathedral has $11.6 million in pledges and is expected to take up to three years to build once details are finalised.

This week, the Federal Government confirmed it would give $5 million to the cathedral precinct project, joining the State Government's recent $2.5 million offer.

The insurance payout on the previous cathedral, destroyed in a natural disaster, will provide $4.1 million towards the project's total cost.

Diocese of Bunbury Bishop Holohan said an unconfirmed contribution from the diocese and a public funding campaign would top up the pledged amounts.

Bishop Holohan ruled out rumours the project could cost $20 million or more and said plans for undercover parking would not go ahead because of the hefty $6 million price tag.

"We could build another cathedral for $4.1 million but it wouldn't be what people want," Bishop Holohan said yesterday.

"We are trying to give what people want, as expressed through the community consultations, and what Bunbury can be proud of."

Bishop Holohan said plans could not be finalised before a submission to the Bunbury City Council was considered.

The Bunbury and Wollongong cathedral plans come as another regional diocese, Broken Bay, is also considering the construction of a new cathedral.

Catholics plan for a sacred city heart (Illawarra Mercury, 10/11/06)
Draft Plans for Catholic Cathedral site in Wollongong (Diocese of Wollongong, Media Release, 10/11/06)
Money mounts up for cathedral (The West Australian, 11/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Bunbury diocese

Bishop suggests cathedral for Broken Bay (CathNews, 28/9/06)
Forum marks Bunbury Cathedral destruction anniversary (CathNews, 17/5/06)
Award winning architect appointed for Bunbury Cathedral (CathNews 28/2/06)
Bunbury survey finds support for new cathedral (CathNews 20/10/05)
Diocese to preserve Cathedral memories on video (CathNews 22/7/05)
Bunbury cathedral demolished (CathNews 6/7/05)
Pope sympathises with Bunbury over Cathedral loss (CathNews 27/6/05)
Storm-damaged cathedral to be demolished (CathNews 31/5/05)
Tornado-damaged Cathedral may face demolition (CathNews 23/5/05)

13 Nov 2006