Building Plans Cancelled – September 2018
In September, Bishop Paul Martin wrote to the parish to announce that he is halting all planning and building of churches, pastoral centres and presbyteries across Christchurch city (link to his letter below). Of all our communities, St Francis of Assisi Parish is most profoundly affected by this decision. We have been through a long and detailed process to settle on a design for our new buildings. Parishioners have responded enthusiastically and generously as the plans unfolded. Many people contributed their insights as the final plan was formulated. And the capital fund-raising programme unleashed a generosity that was truly moving.
This news took everyone by surprise, and so we’ve needed time to let this sink in. It’s a credit to our parish community that with the passage of time we are processing our feelings in a pretty healthy way and giving thought to ‘so, where do we go from here?’
Why has the Bishop made this decision?
Bishop Paul was ordained as the tenth bishop of Christchurch on 3rd March this year. Since then he has been developing his plan for the future of the diocese, all in light of what he has seen and conversations he has had with clergy, lay people and diocesan staff. By September he came to the view that we need to have a major rethink of the layout of the diocese, particularly the placement and number of parishes across Christchurch City. Given the number of churches to be rebuilt or strengthened, he felt it was timely to place a halt on all developments in the city while a new plan is formulated and tested.
What happens next?
Already the Bishop is considering how the layout of parishes in Christchurch might look. He is very conscious that we have been waiting a long time already for new facilities, especially at St Francis of Assisi Parish. So he wants to move ahead without delay, but at the same time needs to be sure that decisions are the best ones.
As well as the rebuild of facilities, there is an urgent need to capture new heart for the Church’s mission. Our new facilities must offer the best setting for the work of evangelisation. After all, that is why we are here.
Please pray for our Bishop and our diocese, that the Holy Spirit will guide all decision-making, and that the mission of the church may convert our hearts anew, and draw those who don’t know Jesus Christ to faith in Him.
– Bishop Paul Martin’s letter to Mairehau parishioners – Letter from Bishop Paul Martin – August 2018
– Parish priest’s reflection on the news – Fr Simon Reflection – Sunday 9th September
Father Simon Eccleton