Three Dunedin Catholic churches close

Masses were celebrated at three Catholic churches in Dunedin for the final time at the weekend.

St Bernadette’s(Forbury), St Brigid’s (Tainui) and St Alphonsus (Waverley) are closing and their congregations will merge with the parish at St Patrick’s Basilica.

Special items from each church were taken to be delivered to St Patrick’s.

Dunedin South pastoral area parish priest Fr Gerard Aynsley said there were several reasons the churches were closing, the Otago Daily Times/The Star reported.

The main one was to “refocus” on a mission to the community, rather than on maintaining old church buildings, he said.

Dwindling numbers were also a factor.

Fr Aynsley said he did not want to focus on that, but he acknowledged “changing times” for Dunedin’s Catholic churchgoers.

‘‘A lot of those parishes were constructed when there were a lot more people and a lot more priests,” he said.

‘‘But we’re trying to get away from saying ‘there’s not as many people, so we’re closing down’.

‘‘We’re trying to say ‘look if we work together, if we consolidate in one place’ . . . and we can work outwards from there,” Fr Aynsley said.

He thought the merger would go smoothly as the three churches had already been working together for more than 10 years.

Also, the St Patrick’s congregation had been spread across the three other congregations during the basilica’s renovation last year.

Fr Aynsley hoped people would see the benefits of merging, and that each church could bring its own strengths to contribute to the new combined St Patrick’s congregation.

‘‘I think most people recognise that this is something that needs to occur.”

He also said: “There’s a matter of sadness, so we wanted to acknowledge the different things that have occurred in these churches before we move on to create our new community,”

St Patrick’s Basilica will officially re-open in June, but services will still be held there until then.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: , , , , ,