By Anthony Barich
The most laborious and time-consuming part of the extraordinary and historic conservation and completion of St Mary’s Cathedral is over.
Though “additional needs” like re-roofing have been addressed by the architect and the Cathedral’s Project Committee, the completion time is estimated to be May next year, Archbishop Barry Hickey has told Perth Catholics in a DVD presentation that will be viewed in parishes this weekend. In the 2008 Parishes Appeal information kit Archbishop Hickey says that “the dream of completing St Mary’s Cathedral is one we will achieve”.
Builders have completed what the construction site manager told The Record is the most time-consuming part – the preparation and excavation of tons of material – over the past 12 months.
Demolition work had to be carried out extremely carefully so the cathedral would not collapse into the excavated area, he said.
Builders are now engaged in the construction and completion of the cathedral between the ‘old’ 1864 section and ‘new’ one opened in 1930.
The excavation saw 17,000 cubic metres of sand dug out from under St Mary’s, where the parish centre and store, music rehearsal room, vestry, servery, museum, archival display, toilets and courtyard, among other things, will be placed.
A carpark between Royal Perth Hospital and the cathedral site will be constructed, with 53 bays underground and 33 above.
The previously car-cluttered parking areas surrounding the cathedral will be no more.
An “Easter forecourt” has been specially designed to “draw people into the cathedral” in an inviting manner, Archbishop Hickey said.
A lift will ascend the new tower on the western side facing Murray Street.
In the annual progress report distributed on the DVD St Mary’s Appeal Committee chairman Mgr Michael Keating said that $22 million of the $25 million minimum required has already been raised.
Community fundraising efforts have galvanised parishes and strengthened friendships, he says.
The DVD is a centrepiece of this weekend’s Parishes Appeal and accompanies reply paid envelopes parishioners can use to make donations.
In the DVD Mgr Keating said that just as he donated “a few pennies” when he was a boy to help reduce a debt at the cathedral and feel proud of it, so too today’s Catholics can tell future generations that “you know, I helped build St Mary’s Cathedral” by donating to the cause.
“I wanted to be part of the fabric honouring the mother of Jesus, our mother,” he said of his childhood, adding that he hopes Perth Catholics will decide to give their “generous” support to the Appeal.