Christchurch Catholic Cathedral – decision made – people happy

Christchurch Catholic Cathedral

After much debate, prayer and waiting, the site for the new Christchurch Catholic Cathedral has been announced.

On Sunday, Christchurch diocese’s Catholic bishop, Michael Gielen, announced the decision to use the Barbados Street site.

It will be on the same site which the beautiful Petrie-designed Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament occupied until the 2011 earthquake destroyed it. Constructed in 1905, the cathedral was demolished in 2020.

Catholic Cathedral College land and unused church-owned sites adjoin the Barbados Street property.

Although ultimately his decision, Gielen said in a letter read at Masses on Sunday that local Catholics’ wishes were fundamental to the decision-making process.

Survey closeup

Sixteen hundred people took part in a Christchurch Catholic Cathedral diocese survey. Their preferences about the new cathedral’s location show:

Eighty-five percent wanted the old Barbadoes St site for the new cathedral

A further ten percent wanted the diocese-owned $50 million riverfront block on the corner of Armagh and Colombo Streets

Four percent opted to expand at St Mary’s (the pro-Cathedral) on Manchester Street

Good news for the diocese

Gielen is positive about the survey outcome.

“For the last 160 years this (Barbadoes St) site has been the focal point of our diocese” Gielen announced in his letter about the new site.

“We hope to connect with the inner city revitalisation.”

Beauty, and having a prominent presence in the city, are important considerations he said.

Experts have been consulted and assured him the land is suitable for reconstruction.

Financial prudence and space for growth have also been considered.

What next?

Gielen says the next step is to choose a patron saint for the new cathedral. His letter noted he would be seeking input from the diocese in that respect.

The coming months will also see critical design work getting underway for the new cathedral precinct.

It will include an early learning centre, diocesan and parish offices, cultural and community space and “ample parking”.

Catholic Cathedral College will remain on its current space, the bishop says.

However, the longer-term location of St Mary’s Primary school is yet to be decided. It might move.

“You, the people of Christchurch share my desire for a cathedral that glorifies God, brings our community together and enhances worthy liturgical celebration.”

Local experts will continue to advise on their areas of expertise as the design process develops, Gielen says.


While Gielen doesn’t have a timeline for the construction, he says he understands the “urgency” many people feel to see a new spiritual home built.

He said the project would indeed proceed with urgency, but with great care.

He has asked for prayer for this “missionary project”, that it will “continue to proceed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit”.



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