by KATHLEEN CASEY
Beside St Mary’s pro-cathedral, an imposing new building has arisen where the former historic Marist presbytery stood before the earthquakes.

Christchurch diocese administrator Fr Rick Loughnan blesses the new cathedral parish building.
Christchurch diocese administrator Fr Rick Loughnan blesses the
new cathedral parish building.

The building was blessed by Christchurch diocese administrator, Fr Rick Loughnan, on February 21, the eve of the fifth anniversary of the devastating 2011 quake.
The new building houses parish office and administration, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament choir and the Catholic shop, all of which were uprooted in 2011.
Cathedral choir director Don Whelan said he is pleased to have a state of the art music studio for the choir and orchestra.
After practising and storing equipment in three succeeding places since the earthquakes, they will now be able to practise on site.
“We spent a lot of time and energy in the planning process for the building, which is specifically designed to meet our cathedral music tradition,” said Mr Whelan.
As the original plan did not meet those requirements, the choir now has a debt of $300,000 but, he said, “We are grateful to have the opportunity to make such wonderful music for the diocese”.
With 47 years under his belt, Mr Whelan is the longest-serving cathedral musician in the country, and one of the longest serving in the world.
Catholic shop manager Bernard Wilkins is looking forward to moving into a large new space after housing and selling religious goods from his home in the past few years.
Blessed on the same day was the grotto of Our Lady, which survived all quakes. This large statue was once knocked over by vandals and subsequently glued down. Mary stayed put.

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