by JENNY McPHEE

After eight years of planning, work by architects, meetings, building consents and fundraising, on May 19 Catholic parishioners walked in procession through the streets of Lincoln, near Christchurch, from St Stephen’s Anglican church to their newly-completed St Patrick’s church. It was a short walk on the day, but this was the culmination of a long road travelled since the 2011 earthquakes, which saw the demise of Lincoln’s previous 54-year-old Catholic church.

Bishop Paul Martin, SM, with others on the procession in Lincoln.

The colourful, multicultural procession, with a mix of bagpipes and India drums, was a suitable beginning to the Rite of Dedication of the new St Patrick’s church. Before entering the church, the drums stopped, excited whispering
ceased, and the air was filled with the sound of the hymn Amazing Grace. This was to the distinctive sound of bagpipes.

A decision had been made to limit the numbers attending the dedication to members of local parishes in the care of Lincoln parish priest Fr Job Thyikalamuriyil, plus leaders of St Stephen’s and St Mary’s Anglican churches — who had shared their facilities with and sheltered the Catholic parishioners for eight years, proved to be a good decision as there was standing room only in the new church.

Fr Thyikalamuriyil, whose former parish was in Kerala, India, had researched the history of the church and the Rite of Dedication proceedings. He produced an 11-page document to inform and lead his parishioners for this special day.

Bishop Paul Martin, SM, assisted by Fr Chris Friel (left) and Fr Job Thyikalamuriyil, prays at the door of the new church.

As a choir sang Come to the Water, the church altar, walls and the people were sprinkled with blessed water to “cleanse” the building. Christchurch Bishop Paul Martin, SM, prayed: “May God, the Father of mercies, dwell in this house of prayer. May the grace of the Holy Spirit cleanse us, for we are the temple of his presence.”

The first church in Lincoln parish was built at the New Headford Mission on Shand’s Track in 1871. The land was donated by Patrick Henley. A large presbytery, which doubled as the school, was also built. A second, larger church
was built in 1880. Fr Chevier, SM, was the first parish priest, at one time serving the parishes between Kaikoura and the Rangitata — initially on foot, as it was believed that owning a horse was contrary to the vow of poverty taken. In later years, and with the ageing priests in the order, horseback travel was allowed.

Father Chevier’s horses were prized and well sought after.
The week after the dedication, the church was opened to the public, with more than 500 people visiting.

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