Extra $7.5 million needed for Perth cathedral

04 Mar 2009

By The Record

Expected completion: late 2009. The new cathedral will add to the character of Perth.
















Archbishop Barry Hickey has announced with gratitude that the initial target of $25 million for the St Mary’s Cathedral appeal has been exceeded due to the generosity of thousands of Western Australians.
However, the effects of the recent WA boom on building costs has forced the Archdiocese to lift its appeal target by $7.5 million to meet the final costs of the conservation and completion of St Mary’s Cathedral.
Announcing the increased target of $32.9 million, Archbishop Hickey and appeal chairman Monsignor Michael Keating said that the new appeal would be conducted across the community.
It would not affect the commitment of the schools, which were currently in the third and final year of their commitment to raise the equivalent of $20 a year for each family, or the parishes, which would launch the third year of their fundraising commitment on the weekend of May 23-24.
They added that despite some confusion generated by general media reporting, appeal funds would not be used on the renovation of the Cathedral presbytery. The two projects were now in progress simultaneously, but the Cathedral appeal funds would be used exclusively for the Cathedral.
“The response to the initial appeal for the Cathedral has been wonderfully generous and we have already reached $25.4 million in gifts and pledges, with $21.3 million of that in hand,” Archbishop Hickey said.
“I am full of gratitude for this generosity and am reluctant to ask for additional funds, but I am sure people will understand both the need and the reasons for it,” he said.
“The fund-raising so far includes $2.4 million from the Alice and Jim Hassell bequest, $5 million from the Archdiocese, and $4 million and $3 million from the Commonwealth and State Governments respectively.
“The clergy pledged $150,000 to fund the high altar and ambo and added another $350,000 in their own donations.
“The parishes’ target of $2.4 million is within reach, and the religious orders and multicultural associations have been very generous.
“The leadership donors contributed $4.5 million in gifts ranging from $10,000 to $500,000. “The Knights of the Southern Cross have committed $1 million to fund the restoration and reinstallation of the organ.
“The school communities have pledged a minimum of $2.1 million over three years and are well on target. An interactive memorial designed for the cathedral grounds will include the names of all schools involved in the fundraising. It is based on the Fibonacci sequence and will incorporate one of the big columns of the original cathedral.”
Mons Keating said that the cost increases which necessitated the additional appeal were due to the boom which had such a dramatic effect on construction costs throughout WA.
The cost of concrete had risen 70 per cent, adding $1.8 million to the cost, and steel had almost doubled in price, adding another million.
The roof of the Cavanagh section was to have been repaired and renovated, but had to be replaced for an additional $1 million.
Other impacts of the boom added $2 million to the builder’s costs.
“These increases will be no surprise to anyone familiar with the events of the last few years,” Monsignor Keating said.
Archbishop Hickey said there was a strange parallel between the present situation and what happened to Archbishop Clune in the late 1920s when, because of the depression, they ran out of money and could build only half of the proposed new cathedral and attach it to the remaining half of the original.
At the opening of the new building in 1930, Archbishop Clune had said, “It is with a saddened heart that we must leave the dream of completing St Mary’s Cathedral to a future generation.”
“The difference between us and Archbishop Clune is that we cannot stop,” Archbishop Hickey said.
“So the dream continues, and it is now a dream within reach.”
Monsignor Keating said that when the cathedral was complete it would be an important site for civic religious ceremonies, such as the memorial service for the Black Hawk disaster.
“It will seat up to 1200 people in air-conditioned comfort, all with a full view of the altar, and no one further than 17 metres from the sanctuary,” he said.
The congregation could expand to 1600 by using the external piazzas, and new audio-visual equipment would ensure full participation.
There would be extensive underground facilities for parish affairs and for the choir, as well as parking bays, some above ground and some below.
“The cathedral will be considerably enlarged, with many new features, and with all its treasures intact,” he concluded.
The Appeal Chairman added that Archbishop Hickey’s promise that the Cathedral project would not be at the expense of the Archdiocese’s welfare activities was honoured in the fact that funds for LifeLink, the funding body for welfare agencies, had increased by $100,000 in 2008. 
A new agency, Day Dawn, had been added, and the activities of the Shopfront had increased greatly with support from the Local Government and the general community.