Cardinal John Dew blessed the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart site and its construction workers on the morning of August 7, before work started on the $16.5 million earthquake-strengthening and refurbishing of the building.
The category 1 historic building has been closed since 2018.
Work is able to start on the project thanks to $8.5 million from the Government’s “shovel-ready” Infrastructure Fund, a $120,000 grant from the Wellington City Council, as well as $3.3 million having been raised so far by the Catholic community.
The blessing ceremony took place mainly inside the cathedral chapel because of rain. Cardinal Dew prayed for the safety of those who work on the site.
The choir at the blessing was from the adjacent Sacred Heart Cathedral School and St Mary’s College, whose students also read the prayers of the faithful. Vicar general Msgr Gerard Burns accompanied Cardinal Dew for the blessing.
After the blessing, Cardinal Dew commented on his facebook page that the cathedral “is a sacred place where people have prayed alone and with others for over a century”.
“This cathedral of ours is tiny in comparison to the great cathedrals of the world, but is it ours and it is beautiful, worthy of preservation for future generations. Thank you to all who participated in the blessing ceremony, workers, parishioners, friends, city councillors and many others.”
Wellington firm L T McGuinness is the main contractor for the work. This company also did the strengthening and restoration of St Mary of the Angels in Wellington, completed in 2017.