by PETER GRACE
WELLINGTON — Marlborough churches suffered some damage in the August 16 Seddon earthquakes, while Wellington church buildings seem to have escaped lightly.
Terry and Gwenda Costello run a farm near Seddon. Mrs Costello told NZ Catholic on August 19 that she thought the Catholic Church at Ward — south of Seddon — was probably a write-off.
The initial earthquake was a vicious, violent one, she said.
One of the Seddon community’s Catholic families, the Kerslakes, lost their home and business. “The old Oak Tree Cottage, it split completely in half. It’s a cob cottage. It’s their own home, and their business,” she said.
Nicola and Russell Kerslake ran functions for weddings, and people in Marlborough used to bus there and take Devonshire teas.
Closer to home, the Seddon church escaped structural damage, but property inside was thrown about.
Even though the statues and other items were tied down, “the statue of Our Lady came down and was damaged at the back, and all the crosses were thrown about 12 feet around”, Mrs Costello said.
As well, a large cross on the roof at the rear end of the church came down.
Like everyone in the district, she was getting tired of cleaning up glass, Mrs Costello said.
The parish priest of St Mary of the Angels in Wellington Central, Fr Barry Scannell, SM, told NZ Catholic on August 17 that the church appeared to have suffered no damage as a result of the quake.
The parish had closed the church before the earthquake for assessment and strengthening. Because engineers were already on site, Fr Scannell said that if there was any damage, they would quickly let the parish know.
The Institute for World Evangelisation-ICPE Mission is based in the former St Gerard’s Church and monastery on Mt Victoria. A staff member there said on August 17 that all seemed okay. “We’re a bit on edge,” she said. “Please pray for us.”
Wellington archdiocese administration director Dave Mullin told NZ Catholic on August 18 that church buildings in Wellington seemed to have come through the shaking relatively unscathed. However, there were reports of structural damage to the Church at Ward in Marlborough.
In a report posted to the archdiocesan website, Mr Mullin stated that there had been minor damage to other buldings in the wider region, the extent of which is still to be confirmed.
“Buildings of the archdiocese that are workplaces and other significant buildings will again be checked by structural engineers. Focus will be on buildings classed as earthquake prone,” he said.
“The archdiocese will contact all parishes to ask them to look for any signs of damage to assess the need for a check by a structural engineer.”