Wellington's Sacred Heart Cathedral reopening with a weekend of celebrations

Three days of celebrations to mark the much-awaited reopening of the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Wellington will take place this weekend from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 June.

The cathedral was closed in July 2018 after being declared earthquake-prone. Work began in 2020 to strengthen and restore the historic building. The site, in Hill Street, was originally home to St Mary’s Cathedral, which was destroyed by a fire in 1898. The present cathedral opened in 1901 as a parish church. It was much later consecrated as a cathedral, in 1984, by Cardinal Thomas Williams.

Archbishop of Wellington, Paul Martin SM, says: “I know people will be really delighted when they see the work that has been done and for us to be able to come home again to the Mother Church of our Archdiocese, which so many are looking forward to.”

The reopening celebrations began on Friday 7 June with a Whakawātea dawn blessing at 5:30am by mana whenua. This will be followed at 7:30pm by an evening Mass of Thanksgiving which will be live-streamed, during which the cathedra (bishop’s chair) will be returned to its place, and the doors of the cathedral opened once again.

Representatives from across the Archdiocese, which includes the Greater Wellington region up to Levin, and the top of the South Island, will be attending to represent their parishes, schools, and communities. Guests will also include interfaith and community leaders.

On Saturday 8 June, a morning Mass at 8.30am will be followed by a day of Adoration. Groups, parishes and chaplaincies will lead an hour of Adoration during the day. At 5pm there will be an Ecumenical celebration of Evening Prayer.

On Sunday 9 June, the Cathedral Parish will celebrate the 10am Mass as a “homecoming”. Special tours of the cathedral, sharing insights into the restoration and strengthening works, will be offered during the Sunday afternoon with tours at 2:00pm, 2:45pm and 3:30pm by koha entry. The 7pm evening Mass will bring the weekend of celebrations to its close.

Debbie Matheson, Lay Pastoral Leader for the Cathedral Parish, has been part of the cathedral restoration leadership team since the cathedral was closed in 2018 and project work began in 2020. She says the parish has a newfound camaraderie, resilience, and stronger identity: “I believe these are very tangible blessings of the parish community’s ‘exile’ of nearly six years out of the cathedral. Every completed transformation in the cathedral brings added excitement for the return to worshipping and serving our fiercely committed community in new ways.”

Parish priest Fr Patrick Bridgman says: “It’s an exciting time for the archdiocese and for the parish as we all return home to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. It really is looking very beautiful. So many people have been creatively involved in enabling the Cathedral Church to again be fit for the worship of God. And what an incredibly active and involved parish is Sacred Heart Thorndon, with everyone ready to welcome all who come!”

  • All the links to the three days of reopening events are in one handy place, including a link to the YouTube live-stream of the Archdiocesan Mass of Thanksgiving. Go here.