News

Bishop of Christchurch Suffers Stroke

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
5 Apr 2011

Bishop Barry Jones

The Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, the Most Reverend Barry Jones suffered a stroke at the weekend and has been admitted to Christchurch Hospital.

The news comes just six weeks after a massive 6.3 earthquake devastated the city taking the lives of 166 men women and children and destroying many landmark buildings including the beautiful century old Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament along with many other churches within the Christchurch diocese.

Now comes the news the city's beloved Bishop is unwell.

"Bishop Barry is continuing to improve after a small stroke and is able to move easily his left arm and leg and has had no trouble speaking," the Diocese's Vicar General, Father Rick Loughnan hastened to reassure worried parishioners this morning, adding that the prelate was recovering and would be in hospital for at least another week.

Farewell to 100 year old St Mary's Catholic

Church, New Brighton

"I will keep you informed as I learn more," Fr Loughnan promised and has asked parishioners to keep Bishop Barry in their prayers.

For the city itself and for the Diocese of Christchurch the past six weeks has been a gruelling time as families and friends mourn the loss of loved ones and the long process of recovery and rebuilding begins.

Since the quake irreparably damaged the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, weekday Masses have been celebrated at a variety of locations including the adjacent Cathedral Presbytery, the Christchurch Music Centre and the assembly hall of the nearby Catholic Cathedral College.

Now with Easter approaching, and the realisation that the Cathedral cannot be rebuilt and it will be several years before a new structure is completed to take its place, the Cathedral's parishioners have been directed to St Mary's Catholic Church in Central Christchurch as the city's pro-Cathedral.

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament Prior to

Earthquake

Along with parishioners, the choir of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament will be transferred to St Mary's Church together with the Cathedral's orchestra, junior choir and Choir of the Catholic Samoan community.

Seven other Catholic churches in the city and at nearby Lyttelton were also badly damaged in the quake and alterative sites for Mass have been set up in nearby parish halls, schools and similar venues.

For parishioners living in the Christchurch suburb of New Brighton there is also sadness as their St Mary's church, like the Cathedral, cannot be repaired from damage resulting from the earthquake. It too must be demolished.

Parishioners were to celebrate the church's centenary later this year. However a final prayer service was held outside the historic brick and stone church last month which was attended by Bishop Barry, more than 200 parishioners, together with Fr Bryan Parish, parish priest for the past 10 years and Fr Pat Crawford, who was parish priest at New Brighton throughout most of the 1980s and 1990s.

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament Post Quake

Bishop Barry described the day as one of both sadness and thanksgiving.

"Sadness because the 100 years of history of this church has come to a sudden and unexpected end and thanksgiving for all the workings of God's grace that have come into countless lives of people in this church," he said.

A foundation stone and construction of a new church is expected to begin before the end of the year.