Kathleen Gallagher wrote this article about the closure of St Joseph the Worker parish in Lyttleton. I used to go to mass at this church and I chose not to go to the final mass as I am so angry about the destruction which the current Bishop, and his advisors, have inflicted on Christchurch. I have enough fights without getting into another one! Recent Stuff article here
Here’s Kathleen’s article:
Over 200 people recently gathered to celebrate the history of the Lyttleton Catholic Community in a large marquee on the old church site. It was a celebration of hope in a time of despair. The Lyttleton and Rapaki communities’ gathering was wonderful, feisty, and song-filled as the sunset and the moon rose above Lyttleton. Stories were told of how monies were raised, and the land was gifted for the building of a church, a presbytery, and later a convent. Embedded in those stories was the clear intention that there continue to be a Catholic community building for future generations in Lyttleton.
Small, strong, historical, Lyttleton is the oldest Catholic parish in the Christchurch diocese after Akaroa. Intentional communities such as Lyttleton are the very lifeblood of Christianity. To take the few resources they have – the restored Presbytery, now their community and Mass centre – away from them seems a bizarre action for anyone who has the long-term interests of a vibrant Catholic community at heart. Each community has its heartbeat, its own rhythm, and colour dependent on geography, peoples, and gifts. These different vibrancies contribute to the vitality of the whole diocese. To sacrifice these for the centre is not a process of rationalisation. It is an alienation of people and a dismantling of service.
The Catholic Diocese of Christchurch no longer has a bishop. Canon Law 428 clarifies that nothing is to be altered during the period of a vacant see. Since 2 January 2021, when +Paul Martin ceased to be Bishop and became apostolic administrator, far from putting on hold his plans, he has accelerated them. The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament has been completely demolished, and St Matthews Bryndwr, John Paul II Centre, and now the Lyttleton Catholic Community Centre have been declared closed and earmarked for demolition. If they were marae, there would be a national outcry.
The Christchurch Catholic Community’s sense of justice is stirring. Parishioners have filed recourses in respect of the former Bishop’s plan. These are currently being heard before the Apostolic Signatura, the highest juridical authority of the Church in Rome. The people of our diocese were to have been notified that these Recourses have been filed. We have not been notified. No aspect of the former plan should be progressed until those Recourses have been considered and determined, yet + Paul Martin continues.
Why the haste to close and bulldoze? Monies from Christchurch East Parish asset sales cannot be transferred to the Cathedral parish. The earthquake period was one of closures and bulldozers. Then we began reconstructing our community places – Lyttleton Church Presbytery, Sumner Church Hall, St Matthews, Mairehau Church Hall, New Brighton Church, and Lincoln Church. When +Paul Martin was appointed Bishop on 5 December 2017, the closures and bulldozers began all over again, alongside speeches and fundraising for his consultants. He has erected not one new building. Where has all the money gone?
Strangely, neither +Paul Martin nor any Diocesan team members were present at Lyttleton on Sunday. Locals said +Paul Martin has never set foot to say Mass in their parish. While there is no Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, these churches cannot be closed and demolished, yet on and on the closures go. This is extremely disturbing for the people of this diocese and the people of our city.