by GORDON COPELAND
St Gerard’s church (1908) and monastery (1932), which were built by the Redemptorist order and are now owned by the lay-led Institute for World Evangelisation — ICPE Mission, opened its doors to the public as part of Wellington Heritage Week.

St Gerard’s is Wellington’s most iconic building because it is visible from the CBD, the suburbs on the surrounding hills, the harbour, the urban motorway and the air. It features in many photographs and paintings of the capital.

Two public tours took place on Tuesday, October 24 and the buildings were opened to all on Saturday, October 28.

The weather was magnificent on both days and a total of some 1600 people enjoyed, among other things, food and drinks on the front lawn looking down over the harbour.

The work of the ICPE Mission and the history of the buildings was everywhere on display via videos and photographs.

The inside of the buildings was an eye opener to the hundreds who see St Gerard’s every day, but have never been inside. They took a deep interest in the church’s magnificent stained glass windows; believed to be the most beautiful in the Southern Hemisphere and the history of the 18th century Italian, St Gerard Majella.

St Gerard, who died at just 29 years of age, was a brother in the Redemptorist order and known as a wonderworker because of his great holiness and the miracles which attended his life.

He was canonised in 1904 and the Wellington church was the first in the world to be named after him. He is the patron saint of infertile couples, mothers-to-be and difficult births.

From its opening until the present, Mass has been celebrated in the church every Sunday at 10:30am and all are welcome.

Each year the monastery is the home of a five month School of Mission with lay missionary trainees coming from all over the world. The next begins in February, 2018 and is open to all between 19 and 35 years of age.

The ICPE Mission can be contacted at: new-zealand@icpe.org for those interested in participating.

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