The restoration of SS Peter and Paul’s Cathedral

Fr Tony Percy, Vicar General Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn speaks about the restoration of SS Peter and Paul’s Cathedral.

Transcript of the audio file above:

Hello, I’m Jeanine Doyle. I’m the communications manager for the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn and today I’m speaking with Father Tony Percy. He is the Vicar General for the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. Welcome, Father Tony.

Thank you, Jeanine. Nice to be with you,

Father Tony. You’ve just recently travelled to Goulburn. What was the reason for your visit?

Yes, I travelled there yesterday and I met with a series of people in relation to the restoration of Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral and I’m able to make the great announcement to them that the Archdiocese is going to spend five million dollars in this next phase of restoration work of that wonderful, wonderful building.

So the restoration has been ongoing over many decades. Can you tell us what’s been achieved so far?

The restoration has been ongoing for about 30 years. First started by Father Laurie Blake. About $4 million has been already been spent over that period of time. The most important parts of the restoration have been done. That is securing the building. They had a huge problem with rising damp with water flow underneath the building. And so that has now been complete. And the others, a few extra pieces of work that need to be done in terms of securing the building, terms of the structure of the building. And then we’re ready to move inside and really make a beautiful job of restoring that grand old cathedral.

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So, Father Tony, why should this Cathedral be restored?

It’s a unique building. It’s the only greenstone building of its type in the world. So it has international significance. It has national significance. And it has obviously local significance because it’s one of our big parishes in the archdiocese. The diocese began in 1862.

And when the first bishop there, Bishop Lanigan, began his ministry in 67, was delayed for a couple of good reasons, which people can research and find out later. He built the cathedral and that was the seat of the diocese until 1948 when it became the archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn.

I understand a committee has been formed. What does this committee hope to achieve?

There’s been a number of committees and this one was in recess for a couple of years. So we’ve got a new committee which will be run by the archdiocese because of the fact that we’re giving so much money here. It’ll be headed by a very competent person. And we will announce the committee within about a month when we have been able to source the skill set that we want. So we’re just on a little bit of a search. Hopefully by mid-February, we’ll have the committee to be announced and then we will begin in March. We haven’t quite got the date yet, but we’ll have an opening mass with the archbishop, with all our donors who have been part of the journey for 30 years, with all the people who’ve been involved in it. And that will be a major boost to the local community, certainly to the ecclesial community, the faith community, and then the civil community. Goulburn will receive a huge boost. They have two other very fine churches there, the Anglican Church and the Uniting Church, the beautiful buildings. And as Goulburn now grows in population, this will be a major boost to their township, to the diocese, because we want to make this into a place of pilgrimage. We want to make this into a minor basilica, which means applying to Rome. And so people can on their journey of faith, they can come to beautiful places to be refreshed and comforted and challenged by the word of God.

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Fr Tony, can you tell us what the next step of restoration will be?

The next stage will be a period of time, and we now secure exactly what we have to do and then work out the cost of it. So the as I mentioned before, the structural parts and the structure of the of the cathedral itself, the underpinnings of it, make sure we’ve got all of that done. All of those things that are secure that must be secured. So we’re very close to that. But we’ve just got a few things to do there. So that’ll be done. And then we’ll move into the inside of the Cathedral and then we’ll look at the grounds because we want it to be a place where people can come not only to the building itself, but also there’s a place for families to come and, you know, maybe pray the Rosary, have the Stations of the Cross outside different things that will engage them spiritually. It’s a great place of pilgrimage. It’s very accessible to a lot of the diocese. So this will be good. So within a six month period, then three to six months, this committee will determine that. Then we’ll appoint a project manager to complete the job, which we hope will be done within three years.

So if people would like to donate to the restoration of the Cathedral, where should they go?

They go straight to the their web site and it’s tax deductible through the National Trust that was secured many years ago or a few years ago at least. And that’s a good thing to know. And we’re expecting to see an increase now in donations because of this second or third or fourth attempt at restoration after the 30 year period. And they can they can give generously, not only in Goulburn itself, but around the diocese and around the country and around the world.

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Thanks for your time.


Wordpress (5)
  • Joanne perrett 4 years

    A beautiful Cathedral, many memories when I was at boarding school At our Lady of Mercy College
    In the late 60s and70s 

  • Peter Mayberry 4 years

    My parents were married in this Cathedral back in Feb 1949. Their aunts as well as many friends lived in Goulburn at the time. Both my parents were born and raised in Braidwood. Four of my father’s relations appear in the marriage register amongst the first twenty from 1839 onwards. Microfilms of the Cathedral’s Baptism, Marriage & Burial registers are held in the National Library of Australia in Canberra. Among the baptisms of Archpiest J J Therry held in this same Library are the early 1805-1806ish French baptisms & marriages of Catholics in the Colony at the time. A french ship was visiting Port Jackson at the time. There is an University thesis by Joe Morley (?) which is titled, “The Catholic Community in New South Wales 1788-1815: A Church without Clergy” or words to that effect. The last time that I was in the Cathedral was for the Mass of Thanksgiving for the Life of Ernie McDermott.

    • Peter Mayberry 4 years

      Sorry about the repeated expression “at the time.” I forgot to mention that the Goulburn parish in the early days covered the Braidwood-Araluen area as well as down to the south coast, like to Broulee. Later during the 1850-60s, there existed separate parishes for Araluen, Queanbeyan & Braidwood. A great read for the early Catholics in NSW is the book titled, “Planting the Celtic Cross” by Rev Brian Maher.

  • Jan McLaren nee Whalan 4 years

    My mother was baptised, made her First Holy Communion and was Confirmed there and I made my First Holy Communion, Bishop Young and Confirmed by Dr Eris O’Brien. Magnificent memories of walking across to there from OLMC once a week for Benediction. I know that many of my ancestors were involved, from John McGovern, second mayor of Goulburn to Jacob Knopp, principal of North Goulburn Public School. Goulburn,especially Saints Peter and Paul, will always be very special to me.

  • Dominic Cudmore 4 years

    Well done Fr Tony Percy. This is fabulous news. I was involved with the Old cathedral in 2008 during the World Youth Day. I look forward to its complete restoration.