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123-year-old Wellington Cathedral reopening with a weekend of celebrations

Three days of celebrations to mark the long-waited reopening of the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Hill Street in Wellington will take place over the weekend of Friday 7, Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June, 2024.

Six years ago the Cathedral was classified as earthquake prone which saw its closure in July 2018 due to safety concerns. The construction work commenced in 2020 to restrengthen and restore the historic building. Originally on the site was St Mary’s Cathedral, which was destroyed by a fire in 1898. The Cathedral was then built and opened in 1901 as a parish church and was consecrated as the Cathedral in 1984 by Cardinal Thomas Williams.  

Paul Martin, Archbishop of Wellington says, ‘I know people will be really delighted when they see the work that has been done and for us to be able to come home again to the Mother Church of our Archdiocese, which so many are looking forward to.’ 

The reopening celebrations will begin on Friday 7 June with a Whakawātea dawn blessing at 5.30am by Mana Whenua, followed by an evening Mass of Thankgiving which will be livestreamed, during which the Cathedra (bishop’s chair) will be returned to its place, and the doors of the cathedral will be opened once again. Representatives from across the Catholic Archdiocese, which includes the Greater Wellington region up to Levin, and the top of the South Island will be attending to represent their Parish, schools, and communities. Guests also include interfaith and community leaders.

On Saturday 8 June there will be a morning Mass at 8.30am, followed by a day of Adoration. Groups, parishes and chaplaincies will lead an hour of Adoration during the day. At 5pm there will be an Ecumenical celebration of Evening Prayer. 

On Sunday 9 June the Cathedral Parish will celebrate the 10am Mass as a ‘homecoming’. Special tours of the cathedral, sharing insights into the restoration and strengthening works will be offered during the Sunday afternoon with tours from 2.00; 2.45 and 3.30pm by koha entry. The 7pm evening Mass will bring the weekend of celebrations to its close.

Debbie Matheson, Lay Pastoral Leader for the Cathedral Parish, has been part of the cathedral restoration leadership team since the cathedral was closed in 2018 and project work began in 2020. She says the parish has a newfound camaraderie, resilience, and stronger identity. ‘I believe these are very tangible blessings of the parish community’s “exile” of nearly six years out of the cathedral. Every completed transformation in the cathedral brings added excitement for the return to worshipping and serving our fiercely committed community in new ways.’

Parish priest Fr Patrick Bridgman says, ‘It’s an exciting time for the archdiocese and for the parish as we all return home to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. It really is looking very beautiful. So many people have been creatively involved in enabling the Cathedral Church to again be fit for worship of God. And what an incredibly active and involved parish is Sacred Heart Thorndon, with everyone ready to welcome all who come!’

  • Read the latest news and events about the Cathedral Campaign here.

  • We are still fundraising for the final $720,000. If you are able, you can make a donation here. 

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