Three former Christchurch bishops moved to temporary mausoleum

Three of Christchurch’s former bishops have been disinterred and temporarily moved to a mausoleum at the Carmelite monastery, Halswell, in Christchurch.

The move signalled earlier on, is part of the demolition of the old cathedral.

Bishops John Grimes, Edward Joyce and John Cunneen were moved to the mausoleum over a period of three days during May, The Christchurch Press reported yesterday.

Bishop Grimes was Christchurch’s first Catholic bishop. He died in 1915.

Bishop Joyce died in 1964, and Bishop Cunneen died in 2010.

However, the purpose-built mausoleum is only a temporary resting place for the bishops.

Their remains will be moved once more when the new Catholic cathedral planned for the corner of Colombo and Armagh streets nears completion.

“The disinterment went as planned with no surprises.”

“The next of kin were consulted and engaged where possible,” Catholic diocese general manager Andy Docherty said.

Docherty confirmed the disinterment was managed by John Rhind Funeral Directors, who removed the bodies “carefully and respectfully, by hand.”

The Apostolic Administrator of the Christchurch Diocese and Coadjutor Archbishop of Wellington Paul Martin led the disinterment ceremony over three days, May 12-14.

Presented with a massive decision, the new Christchurch bishop decided to demolish the badly damaged current cathedral.

Martin said projections to fully restore the former cathedral were costed at $149 million.

Early in May 2021, he announced the old cathedral would be replaced by a new $40 million traditional-looking cathedral and a $60 million diocesan administration centre, open courtyard, garden and parking overlooking Victoria Square in the centre of Christchurch City.

In May 2021, the Christchurch Diocese Apostolic Administrator said that raising money for the new Christchurch Catholic Cathedral will be a challenge but that he remains ‘prayerfully optimistic’.

Experienced Cathedral architects, American firm Franck & Lohsen, have been chosen as the lead design team.

Renowned Christchurch firm Warren and Mahoney will support them.

Martin’s appointment as Archbishop of Wellington came as a surprise to him.

At his episcopal ordination in 2018, and to much applause, he told an optimistic crowd that “Christchurch is now home”.


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