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“The Cathedral Parish soon became our spiritual home. We were drawn to the warmth of the parishioners.”

The Saldanha Family

Journeying together

“When Claire and I got married and moved into our first home in early 2020, we explored a few parishes to find where we could best nurture our faith as a young couple. The arrival of COVID certainly made it challenging to meet others physically, and it seemed as though the odds were not in our favour! However, despite not living nearby, the Cathedral Parish soon became our spiritual home. We were drawn to the warmth of the parishioners.  

The Saldanha Family

When we first attended Mass at the Cathedral, we were so encouraged by how people welcomed us. We felt that we could really get to know and to journey with others. We’ve only been parishioners for the past three years, but there are those in the parish community who have been so their whole lives.  


Because of this we’re excited to see the doors of the Cathedral open again. We have a deep belief and sense of hope that when we move back into the Cathedral, those who journeyed with us and searched for a spiritual home like us, can join and build their journeys of faith again.”  


Denver sits on the Parish Pastoral Council and finds that the central location of the Cathedral is key. “It allows us to serve the people of Wellington City, those who truly need our help and support – there is no shortage of people who need the comfort of Christ and pastoral care.”  


As an architect, Claire knows that buildings are always a good investment, “You’re not just investing in a structure but the people that the structure serves ... there is a lot of resource that goes into constructing or restoring a building, but the end result is so much more, it provides a space for people to learn, connect and grow”.  


The Saldanhas believe that when you invest in the Cathedral, you’re not just doing it for those present today; you are paving the way for many generations of faith and giving all those who come through the door a place to grow spiritually and be nourished by the Word of God. Denver adds, “This is more than just providing financial support, this a genuine opportunity to bless generations of people. Which, if you really reflect on it, is a true privilege.” ✟  

A family affair

Kevin O’Connor has strong memories of attending Mass at the Cathedral (formerly the Basilica) from age 8. Every Wednesday morning, all the pupils and Brothers of Marist Brothers School Thorndon would assemble and march to Mass. The school was then sited in Hawkestone St, although nowadays it could more aptly be described as Marist Motorway. 

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Kevin and Julia on their wedding day.

Kevin and Julia were married at the Cathedral in 1967. Kevin’s brother Maurice was also married there.

Julia’s family links with the Cathedral were formed around 1900. Two Quirke brothers and two Flynn sisters knew each other when they all lived in Castlemaine, Ireland. All four had emigrated to settle in Thorndon at the turn of the century, and a first Quirke/Flynn marriage took place at the Cathedral in 1905. The second Quirke/Flynn marriage (Julia’s grandparents) also took place at the Cathedral, in 1908. Julia’s father was christened, and her parents married and much later farewelled at the Cathedral.

Julia is a third-generation Quirketo marry at Hill Street. Her sister Erin and her brother Patrick also married there. Julia had further frequent connection with the Cathedral during her secondary schooling at St Mary’s College.

The Sacred Heart Cathedral is important in Julia and Kevin’slives, as it is for so many other parishioners.

“The very thought that all the needed funds may not be forthcoming to strengthen, renovate and re-open this Wellington icon deeply saddens us.

The Cathedral is the backbone of the Archdiocese and is steeped in a rich history. But it has presented a challenge to us all to play our part in ensuring that this backbone of the Archdiocese is presented in the best shape to support the future growth and development of our faith. Completing the strengthening, renovation and re-opening of the Cathedral will answer that challenge.”

Julia and Kevin are working to see this project through, and we encourage those who feel that their donation can help towards the Cathedral re-opening to join in.

A place to grow our faith

The Cathedral is significant to New Zealand, to Wellington, to Thorndon, and to me in my faith journey. I was received into the Church later in life, in my late 30s, at Mount Carmel church in Hataitai. However, before that I worshipped in Catholic churches in the Cook Islands while I was living there, and in the south of France, where I subsequently lived. 


Gordon Stewart outside the Catholic Precinct.

I subsequently joined St Joseph’s Parish, Mt Victoria, before joining the Cathedral Parish in 2001 when I moved to Thorndon. I am a strong supporter of Thorndon as a suburb, gutted by the motorway but living on. The Cathedral is, to my mind, a central part of this. 


So with all this, and my travels, I have attended Mass in many, many, churches. All of this is to say that, for me, the environment in which I worship is important to me. I have been a member of the Cathedral Parish for quite some time now. My two older daughters went to St Mary’s College, and my youngest daughter worshipped at the Cathedral. 


While it was later in life that I came to the Catholic faith, I have been fortunate to have been entrusted with governance roles within the Church. I was a director of the Sisters of Compassion Group Limited for nine years and, more recently, I have been appointed a Director of the Catholic Foundation. I am currently a member of the Cathedral Restoration Committee with Cardinal John. It has been an honour to use my legal and governance skills to serve our community in what ways I can. 


Why did I join the Cathedral Restoration Committee? Well, because Cardinal John asked me, of course! However, I also believe that it is essential to not only make our Cathedral safe, but also to much improve it as a living place of worship. That is important not only for the parish but for the wider community, Catholic and non-Catholic. 


To me the Cathedral Restoration Campaign is more than just bricks and mortar. It signals our intention as both Catholics and people of this place, to pay respect to this sacred treasure. It is an important part of our history – what makes this city such a great place to live and grow our faith. ✟ 

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