Cambridge Catholics seek $4m to rebuild church

Paua Architects

St Peter’s Catholic community in Cambridge is beginning a $4 million campaign to replace their earthquake-prone church buildings with new ones. So far it has raised nearly $350,000.

Parish priest Father Leonard Danvers says the original brick church had been altered and enlarged three times since it was built in 1926.

After polling parishioners, it was decided to demolish both the old church and adjacent presbytery, which was built in 1915. Two new buildings will replace them.

Paua Architects won a design competition and produced conceptual drawings (see image) for the new church featuring an upside-down cross which anchors the church to the centre of the site.

St Peter was crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus Christ.

Danvers has had experience of demolishing and replacing parish churches. He was parish priest in Mount Maunganui in 1986 when two Catholic churches were sold to make way for the new St Thomas More church.

That was a controversial move but once opened, parishioners embraced it, he says.

His Cambridge parishioners have known for some time they would have to do something about St Peter’s Church. Danvers says they had no choice about demolishing the building as the church does not meet today’s safety standards.

While many parishioners have committed themselves to the rebuild project, there is some dissent. Some say it is a waste of money, that it is only the tiled roof that needs strengthening and that the original brick structure is rock solid.

Danvers says he understands their views because $4 million is a lot of money and there is an emotional attachment to the old church for many of them.

He hopes to have a new church and presbytery built by 2026 when the present church turns 100.

Leading architect Antanas Procuta of Cambridge says the new church – which will be located on the same intersection as the old building – will be brought as close to the intersection as feasible. This will help it better relate to Cambridge’s town centre.

In the new plans, the entry is now immediately visible and invites people onto the site and into the church.

The covered entrance provides shelter. With the warm timber lining and angled brick wall, it guides people to the entrance doors of the long, narrow porch.

The building will pay homage to St Peter and the original church through the reuse of materials. The old terracotta roof tiles will be stacked to create a rich textural backdrop to the cross.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: ,