by LYNDSAY FREER
WELLINGTON — The Society of Mary has moved into a new province centre in Thorndon Quay in Wellington. It is the culmination of many moves over the past decade.
About 10 years ago the Society of Mary moved out of Futuna, its retreat centre in Karori, Wellington. At the time the only suitable place they had that could replace Futuna was the Provincial House at 78 Hobson St, so it was decided that this would become a Retreat and Spirituality Centre, next door to the Marist Centre — the former Mission House at 88 Hobson St, in order to continue the good work that had been done earlier at Futuna.
Needing a new home, therefore, the provincial offices together with the financial offices of the Society of Mary were moved to 123 Adelaide Rd. This building had been in its former life a Post Office and an office of the Public Trust, but was barely adequate in size to accommodate the province centre long-term.
These make-do, temporary offices would be replaced it was hoped when a more suitable site became available. This was not easy to find, for while there were a great number of offices for rent in high-rise buildings in Wellington, there were very few buildings that would make an ideal province centre.
In due course, new premises were found at 219 Thorndon Quay. They were fitted out for the society’s province centre, and for the archives that had stayed housed at Hobson St after the Futuna team moved in and the province centre moved out.
The Marist Fathers and Brothers always call their province centre in New Zealand “Cerdon”, after the town in France where Fr Jean-Claude Colin and his brother Pierre worked for several years in the early days of the Society of Mary, and from where other branches of the Marist family took shape.
The Thorndon Quay building, with the name Cerdon above the door and the Marist and New Zealand flags flying outside, returns close to the Marist houses in Hobson St on the hill above.
The Society of Mary blessed and moved in to their new province centre on the day of the Wellington Sevens — February 3 — and were hardly noticed among the passers-by decked out for this colourful Wellington rugby event. In fact there were more “priests” and “nuns” in habits passing the front door of the new province centre than usual, as that seems to be a costume popular with the Sevens devotees.
The new building has a floor of archives and a floor each for the province administration and the province’s finance offices.