The continued success of fundraising for the St John Vianney House extension project had shown the affection Catholics have for their priests, says a senior Auckland priest.
A diocesan-wide appeal was launched in November to partially cover the cost of the construction. The cost of the project was placed at $3.2 million, of which $1.79 million was initially raised from benefactors and estates.
Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn said he is delighted with the response.
“I am very grateful for the support that we have received. We are hoping that the new extensions will be ready by Christmas this year,” he said.
“I already have some retired priests who will be looking forward to living in the new rooms at St John Vianney House,” he added.
Auckland Council of Priests chairman Msgr Paul Farmer, who also chairs the project committee and the fundraising committee, said there had been more than 1040 individual contributions raising about $800,000 so far.
“We did have a goal of raising over $1 million for this project, which I think is do-able. We’re still hoping that there are people out there who might like to make a contribution, and there’s always an opportunity to do that,” he said.
“Some of them (contributions) are large but many of them are very small donations from ordinary folk in our parishes,” he said.
Last January, two young violinists, Benedict Thomas (7) and his brother Isaac (10) from St Benedict’s in Newton raised $300 through busking.
“I think Catholics have always had a very special place in their hearts for their priests and their generosity in regard to this project shows that,” Msgr Farmer said.
Construction of the extension has started. “We have accommodation for 10 here in St John Vianney House, which had been stretched for some time. This [project] will give us seven further units to house priests,” Msgr Farmer said.
“Currently, we have priests in rest homes and other places. But I’m sure the facility will be well used once it’s up and running.”
Msgr Farmer said he was grateful to all the individuals, parishes and communities who had made a contribution to the project.