Holy Cross Seminary buildings reopen after $7.8million remediation  

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Buildings at Holy Cross Seminary which were remediated at a cost of $7.8 million were finally blessed and opened on March 11 this year. 

New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference executive officer Siobhan Dilly said that the project has come in under budget with “a time overrun of a few months, which reflects the impact of Covid-19 and some design improvements for Block A”. 

“This was a major undertaking by the bishops’ conference, it took a great deal of time, meetings, and advice and engagement before the bishops decided to proceed. The final decision reflects their commitment to seminarian formation in Aotearoa New Zealand, alongside Te Kupenga – Catholic Leadership Institute, who are also on Vermont St [in Ponsonby],” she said. 

NZCBC president and Wellington Cardinal John Dew thanked Ms Dilly and her predecessor, Auckland diocese general manager James van Schie, as well as the construction companies and workers for the work that they had put into the project. 

He also acknowledged and thanked Auckland Bishop Emeritus Patrick Dunn, who was one of the prime movers of the project. Aside from Cardinal Dew and Bishop Dunn, Dunedin Bishop Michael Dooley was also present to bless the buildings. 

Three two-storey buildings were found to be leaky in 2016. These included two residential blocks and the administration building. The administration building housed the chapel, lecture room, and staff offices, as well as the communal kitchen and dining room. 

Cardinal Dew thanked Holy Cross seminary rector Fr Matthew Vadakkevettuvazhiyil, former rector Fr Brendan Ward, the staff and the students for their patience while the work was going on. 

 “People were . . . most of the time, living here, studying here, learning to pray in the midst of disruption, learning to eat in the midst of disruption for a long time, having meals out of the garage,” he said. “All of those things disrupt life, but maybe it is part of formation.” 

Fr Vadakkevettuvazhiyil said that he was grateful to God that they have their space back. 

He said there was a year of being “on takeaways”, as there was neither a kitchen nor a dining room in which to cook or eat food. 

He said timetables had to be reset often as “we didn’t have enough facilities here”. 

Fr Vadakkevettuvazhiyil said that the new building is a “really beautiful space”. 

“A lot of thinking has gone into the design, keeping in mind the requirements of safeguarding. And I’m really happy [about] it. The windows (of the offices) are transparent so we can ingrain our safeguarding culture into the seminarians who will be trained to minister in New Zealand,” he said. 

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The Mass for the reopening of the remediated buildings was the Mass for the Mystery of the Holy Cross. 

Cardinal Dew brought the Lampedusa Cross given to him by Pope Francis, a reminder of the 2013 boat tragedy that killed 311 people in the Mediterranean Sea. He also had a cross from Cambodia with a figure of Christ with a part of his leg missing, a reminder of those who were killed or maimed by land mines. 

“The cross is a visible reminder of the terrible suffering of people everywhere. In those thousands of people who have died, Jesus Christ has once again been ‘in his death throes’,” the cardinal said.  

He said the “mystery of the faith” helps us connect Good Friday to Easter Sunday, “help us to see Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection as a whole”. 

Cardinal Dew said that the Mass for the Mystery of the Holy Cross was celebrated because of the seminary’s name. 

“We have blessed these remediated buildings. They are not just any buildings, they are seminary buildings. They are Holy Cross Seminary,” he said. 

“This is a place to be formed, to grow and become Christlike, and to know that our life, too, is about taking up a cross every day as we journey to the new life of resurrection. As we journey, we give hope to others who are crucified in so many ways,” he said. 

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Rowena Orejana

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