Christchurch Bishop Paul Martin, SM, has presented the final plan for changes to parishes in Christchurch city and some other regions.

The final plan, presented in a pastoral letter on the First Sunday of Advent, leaves intact most of an original proposal to form five new, larger, better-resourced city parishes from the current 12. But there are a couple of changes to two of the proposed parishes.

A new parish of Christchurch North, based at St Joseph’s, Papanui, will be an amalgamation of the Bryndwr, Burnside and Papanui parishes. Previously, this was proposed to be a merger of Mairehau, Burnside and Papanui parishes. Mairehau is now going to be amalgamated with St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral parish to form a new Christchurch Central parish, to be “located at a yet to be finalised site in central Christchurch”. It was originally proposed that Bryndwr be part of the central parish merger.

In the pastoral letter, Bishop Martin explained that in the original proposal, the three “north” parishes would have had the three largest schools in the diocese, creating “logistical issues, especially around sacramental programmes and pastoral care for our schools”.

Geographical considerations concerning Mairehau’s catchment, the projected size of the new “north” parish, and existing cooperation between Burnside and Bryndwr parishes were among other reasons cited for the changes.

Other proposals for parishes in Christchurch South, Christchurch East, Christchurch West and Selwyn were unchanged from the original plan that had been released in June.

New churches will be built at Papanui and Hoon Hay, and an expanded church will be at Sockburn. In time, it is hoped a new church will be at Rolleston in Selwyn.

The new parishes will commence on Pentecost Sunday, 2020. Parish priests have been appointed, with the new administrator of the pro-cathedral parish to be Fr Simon Eccleton. The current administrator, Fr Chris Friel, has been appointed parish priest of Timaru and Waimate parishes. (A full list of Christchurch diocese clergy moves will be in the January 26 issue of NZ Catholic).

“Communities will continue to worship from their current sites as parishes decide and begin on either a building or renovation programme,” Bishop Martin wrote in the pastoral letter.

“The next step in the process will be to produce accurate costings for all new facilities, facility upgrades, land acquisitions and land sales,” the bishop noted.

“Through the parish priest and the parish councils, the parish will be fully involved in determining what buildings will be needed for the new parish.”

He acknowledged that fundraising would be required, as it was before this plan, and “especially in areas that haven’t had a parish campaign so far”.

Bishop Martin explained: “We have been very conservative with our projections to ensure this can work.”

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