Daily Mass went on as scheduled at the Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph in Auckland despite the huge fire that ravaged the SkyCity Convention Centre under construction less than half a kilometer away.
The fire started at around 1pm on October 22 and raged for almost two days. It was finally put out by firefighters on the morning of October 24.
“It’s very sad. The poor city,” cathedral dean Pa Peter Tipene said on October 23. “We had a 7am Mass this morning to a very small crowd because a lot of people weren’t too sure about the access to the city today.”
He said a lot of parishioners had been held up by traffic delays and bus cancellations.
“Mass is still going on. There’s a little bit of smokiness and odour but it’s not bad enough that we have to cancel Mass,” Pa Tipene said.
He said a nervous bride called him up to confirm that her wedding would not be adversely affected by the situation.
“The bride has gotten in touch to ask if they needed a Plan B. I said, ‘No, I’m sure you’ll be fine’,” he said.
The bride was television personality Erin Simpson who married Zachary Franich of The Bachelor television show on October 25. Mr Franich is NZ Youth head coach at Surf Life Saving New Zealand.
Cathedral secretary Rebecca Knibb said they advised elderly parishioners not to come into Mass on Wednesday and Thursday, especially if they were coming into the city by car.
“We were not hugely affected,” Mrs Knibb said. “It was pretty quiet around here because most places have shut down.”