By Robert Hinii
A new wave of revamping and conserving cathedrals that has swept across Australia was the motivation behind a colloquium held in Darwin recently.
With dioceses in Perth, Hobart, Broome and Darwin restructuring, renovating and reordering their Cathedrals, the August 7 event was aimed squarely at providing useful resources and discussion about Cathedrals.
The theme of the colloquium was ‘The Cathedral: a living church at the heart of the diocese’ with architects, liturgists, cathedral rectors and diocesan property officers taking part.
Participants talked about the history and tradition of Catholic cathedrals, the many roles and functions of cathedral today, the cathedral church according to Church documents, the contemporary spatial arrangement of cathedrals, the contributions of art and technology in cathedrals, and future challenges for cathedral architecture and liturgy.
Professor Romaldo Giurgola, the architect of Parliament House in Canberra and St Patrick’s Cathedral at Parramatta, gave a dinner speech on ‘Prayer and Celebration in the Cathedral’. The colloquium was of special importance for the Diocese’ of Broome and Darwin who convened the event. The Diocese of Broome is preparing to erect a new cathedral while the Diocese of Darwin has commenced a program of conservation, completion and liturgical reordering works in its cathedral.
There were also presentations on cathedral projects, including the completed St Patrick’s Cathedral at Parramatta and the work currently under way at St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart.
Fifty people participated in a setting that was intentionally conversational, to ensure that all participants could share their knowledge, insights and experience, as well as benefiting from the expertise of those who gave presentations on the different topics.
Fr Peter Williams, Executive Officer of the National Liturgical Council, expressed the hope of many participants that the event be the beginning of a forum for ongoing conversation between liturgists, architects and those who commission their services for the design of cathedrals and churches, for the good of Catholic communities in dioceses across the country.