Bishop Martin proposes wide-ranging changes for parishes


Bishop Paul Martin, the Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, is proposing to create five new parishes in Christchurch by merging 12 existing parishes.

The proposed changes were announced at Sunday masses throughout the Diocese via a video message on Pentecost Sunday.

Parishioners have been asked to provide feedback by August 30.

The five new parishes would be Christchurch North, Christchurch West, Christchurch South, Christchurch Central and Christchurch East.

Some churches would be surplus to requirements and would close.

There will be one church in each of the Central and North parishes.

The parishes in the east and the west will each have 2 churches.

Where there are two churches parishioners could choose where they attend mass, Martin said.

The Central Christchurch Cathedral parish would be formed from a merger of the Bryndwr, St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral Parishes and Te Rangimarie Maori Community and based either at the Cathedral on Barbadoes St or at a new site.

Martin says he hopes a decision on the cathedral’s future will be made by mid-August.

The existing parishes of  Riccarton, Sockburn and Hornby would be merged to form the parish in West Christchurch.

It would be based at the Our Lady of Victories, Sockburn site on Main South Road.

The parish in East Christchurch will be based at the St Anne’s, Woolston site on Ferry Road.

This parish would result from a merger of Ferrymead and Christchurch East Parishes.

Addington-Beckenham and Hoon Hay-Halswell parishes will be merged to form the parish in South Christchurch.

It would be based at the Our Lady of Assumption site on Hoon Hay Road.

A new Selwyn parish would be based at Rolleston with a newly built church and school.

This parish will be formed from a merger of the existing Akaroa, Lincoln, Leeston and Darfield parishes.

All of those existing churches will be retained.

A merger of Waimakariri and Hurunui parishes into one new North Canterbury parish was being considered.

Some Catholic schools will lose a parish church on the same site, but in those cases, chapels would be built to ensure students could still attend weekday Masses.

Martin said his desire was to make the parishes stronger, able to last into the future, financially viable and able to be staffed by priests and parish teams so they can focus on the mission to spread the Gospel more effectively and to be welcoming to those who have not heard of Christ.

“As a new Bishop to the Diocese, I was familiar with some aspects of the diocese, but not all, so have been able to ask questions about why we do things the way we do.

Martin said that he and his pastoral team have been studying trends here and overseas and they can see, from parishes that are thriving and growing, that part of their success comes from strong leadership and a real desire to work collaboratively with the laity.

“These thriving and growing parishes are also much larger than the parishes that we have now. They have a critical mass of people, less plant, more staff and financial resources that are leading to vibrant and flourishing parishes.”


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