THERE was a time when St Peter and Paul’s (Old) Cathedral was the main focal point for Catholics in Southern NSW.
And while the Old Cathedral still has a strong presence being the main church in the Lilac City’s Mary Queen of Apostles Parish, it is in much need of repairs and thus funds.
“Despite the Cathedral restoration project being part funded under the National Trust of Australia (NSW), the money has dried up and our maintenance has stopped,” said restoration project manager Brian Watchirs.
“Our aim is to raise at least $5 million which is needed to stabilise the building, overcome the serious damp problem, repair and clean the windows among many other maintenance tasks.”
St Peter and Paul’s was initially built as a smaller brick church on the current site of Bourke and Verner Streets where Archbishop John Bede Polding first laid out the site in 1840.
Initial construction works began in 1844 and the brick church was completed in 1848, at which point works began on building the presbytery next door in Verner Street.
And while the original church shell is not recognisable to most, a visit underneath the Sanctuary shows some of the old foundations which can be seen upon inspection under the Cathedral floor.
“Rising damp was an issue as the site seemed to attract heaps of water, whether we were close to a spring or something I don’t know,” Mr Watchirs said.
“Our contractors dug out several feet underneath the original level and re-did most of the footings, so it is much better now and we don’t have the damp problem anymore.”
Mr Watchirs says he and others are doing the most with the means at their disposal in trying to restore the Old Cathedral to its former glory.
He worries however about the source of future significant financial help.
He says the Old Cathedral is an important part of the history, not just in the Archdiocese, but also in Australia considering Goulburn is the nation’s first inland city.
And as the Cathedral celebrated its patronal feast day recently on June 29, Mr Watchirs thought it was timely to seek more help from the community.
“Where there are a number of blue stone churches in Australia, Goulburn’s Old Cathedral’s claim to fame is that it is the only green stone (diorite porphyrite) church in Australia and possibly the world,” he said.
“It’s important that we keep and preserve our heritage, so if anyone is in a position to help in anyway then we would greatly appreciate it.”
To learn more or to make a donation call 4821 1022.