Oldest church on the West Coast faces closure

West Coasters are being encouraged to attend Mass in Ross on 9 August so as to save 149 year old St Patrick’s church from closure.

St Patrick’s is the only church left in the town.

The church was built in 1866, within a year of the discovery of gold at Ross.

It is a category 2 listed building with Heritage New Zealand.

It is also the oldest wooden building on the Coast.

And it is the second oldest church in the Christchurch diocese, after Akaroa.

But last year, parishioner numbers fell to just three, raising concerns for its future.

The Bishop of Christchurch, Barry Jones, will celebrate Mass in the the Church on 9 august as part of a diocesan visit to Westland.

Parishioner Biddy Manera said the more people who could attend that Mass, the better to show the significance of the church to the community.

Manera said while Mass numbers were not high at Ross, members of the Kokatahi-Kowhitirangi congregation, as well as visitors, often joined the twice-monthly Masses.

“Visitors do use it and people who come and stay in holiday homes come too, even people from other denominations because it is the only church in Ross — we don’t turn anyone away.”

Manera is a local historian and has a particular interest in the Chinese gold miners and their families who came to Ross from Guangdong Province in the 1870s.

Recently she’s won the battle to buy back the Ross Cemetery after she discovered that in 2008, the Westland District Council mistakenly sold part of the Cemetery that included unmarked graves.


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