The important liturgy will include anointing the new altar, one of 12 points of consecration to be anointed with oil.
All the religious orders that were in Goulburn over the years, the Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Saint Joseph, Christian Brothers and Passionists, will be represented at the Mass. A local Catholic choir will be joined by the Cathedral Choir from Canberra.
“It is going to be a huge community celebration,” Dr Stephens said. “It’s going to blow people’s minds.”
After such a painstaking restoration the new-look place of worship will surprise some parishioners. But for Dr Stephens, one element stands out.
“Of all the things that represent the ‘ah ha’ moment of the cathedral restoration, it has to be those stations of the cross,” she said. “Nobody knew they were coloured. The exquisite painting and repair has been meticulous. They give you goose bumps when you see them.”
A large stained-glass widow from above the main altar is in 14 pieces being repaired at Moss Vale. It will be reinstalled, the 1890-pipe organ will be cleaned and serviced, the stations of the cross returned and the last piece of turf will be laid outside before the reopening.
“Everything that can be done will be done by then,” Dr Stephens said.
“We are optimistically coming in under our original estimate, but it has been a real challenge.”
Many long bursts of heavy rain, COVID-19 throughout 2021, sharp restrictions in materials and attack by intruding vandals slowed the final stages. An example of the delays is the copper downpipe that was stolen.
“Trying to get it remade and refitted and back in time has been a mammoth effort,” Dr Stephens said.
Due to the specialist nature of repairs and restoration, most of the contractors on site are heritage-accredited craftspeople. In high demand, they have had to balance other work commitments across Australia.
“They have been magnificent in working weekends, evenings and through the rain and the wind that has been Goulburn’s winter to make sure we meet the deadline,” Dr Stephens said.
Meanwhile, the Old Cathedral’s application to become a basilica awaits determination in Rome and the committee is confident it will be successful.
Scrubbed clean and repainted, almost every corner, curved arch and column of the Old Cathedral has historical points of interest. Dr Stephens expects religious and heritage tourists to visit Goulburn, a destination with inspiring historical buildings.
www.aboutregional.com – Published with permission
One of my earliest happy memories was the day my mother had me seated just inside the door of the Goulburn cathedral to attend Mass that was celebrated by several priests including her brother, Fr. Placid Millay who she pointed out to me.
“That’s Uncle Tom!” I was excited to recognise him. He was one of the Passionist priests who had assisted us to move to a home in Kenmore, across the road from the military hospital where soldiers were returning from Egypt. That led to an outbreak of polio that was then called Infantile paralysis. That was my next adventure. Before my Dad returned from his assignment to Queensland, my mother was driven to Goulburn hospital every day by a very generous man, Michael Carron. I am sure a lot of Goulburn’s families were supported by Mr. Carron in those hard times. I would be happy to see him remembered in this time of remembering the important times at the cathedral in the times of the wars.
I have visited the magnificent Cathedral on many occasions and regard it as of great heritage significance. Now that restoration is complete I hope to see the results in the not too distant future, especially the Stations of the Cross which have attracted much so much favourable comment. I have been privileged to play the Hill and Son grand organ which was installed in 1890, a year after the famous Hill organ in Sydney Town Hall. The Organ Historical Trust of Australia considers the Goulburn instrument to be one of the finest-sounding and best preserved organs in Australia. The local Catholic community and the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn are to be commended on the restoration, not only of St Peter and Paul’s Old Cathedral, but its many treasures.