Church closed. Martinborough Catholics celebrated Christmas outdoors

martinborough catholics

In October last year, two Wairarapa Catholic churches were abruptly closed for some time after being deemed earthquake-prone.

One of the churches is Martinborough’s St Anthony of Padua.

The decision left the local Catholic community to sort out its immediate future including the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass and Carols celebration. 

“Government regulations allow for use of our building until 2033 while improvements are considered and carried out, but the Church Administration went for automatic closure.”

The Martinborough Catholic community considered a number of suggestions including offers of alternative venues from other Christian denominations.

But given past attendance of about 170 and their desire to retain a presence in Martinborough, they decided to remain onsite for Christmas and beyond.

Taking a risk with the weather, they held their traditional Christmas Mass outdoors; alongside the church building and under the trees on the church property.

“We accessed 100 chairs from Chanel College to add to our local supply,” said parishioner Margaret Bath.

“A conservative attendance was around 185 plus, with many standing or even sitting on the steps of the closed church.

“This made for a special and memorable celebration. The night started out balmy and chilled later……..but the rain held off.

“The evening had a “biblical” feel about it, the Holy Family were in temporary accommodation and amongst the cattle in the stable…..not to forget angels, wise men and shepherds,” Bath said.

“We had horses in the paddock alongside that were interested in the proceedings and didn’t smell or create health hazards.”

Bath says they have approval for a second engineer to carry out a peer review of the church – they hope this will be carried out early this year.

“Interesting to note that the Government regulations allow for use of our building until 2033 while improvements are considered and carried out but the Church Administration went for automatic closure.

“We, the local Catholic community, had no input.”

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News category: New Zealand.

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