THREE million dollars is what the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst is aiming to raise to complete the heritage restoration of the Cathedral of St Michael and St John.
The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst, Michael McKenna, launched a public appeal last Friday to secure the long-term future of one of NSW’s iconic heritage buildings.
The Diocese formally announce its plans to raise the $3 million needed to restore the Cathedral over the next four years.
The announcement coincided with the anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral in 1865, four years after construction was completed in April, 1861.
“The wear and tear of time, constant use and the impact of restorations from years past have all taken their toll,” Bishop McKenna said.
“The brickwork is worn, the sandstone is crumbling and there is significant salt damage to the foundations.
“There is much work to be done to save the Cathedral so it can continue to serve for generations to come.”
The Cathedral was listed on the NSW State Heritage Register last month and recognises the significant place the building has had in the life of Australia’s oldest inland settlement.
Project plans include restoration of stone and brickwork on the bell tower, removal and restoration of the Cathedral bells, internal refurbishments including reinstatement of timber flooring and windows, and repair and replacement of a significant amount of brick and delicate stonework on the facades.
To raise the capital, a series of fundraising events and community-based activities are being planned for the next four years across the Diocese.
“The appeal creates echoes of the community spirit and support of Bathurst’s early settlers who donated significant personal funds towards the original build ing through church bazaars and other such events,” Bishop McKenna said.
“This important restoration project is a shared responsibility of church, of government and of community, to secure the long- term future of a working building that has meant so much, not just to the Catholic community of Bathurst but to everyone who has passed through its doors, recognising its value as a place of celebration, hope and love for so many.
“Our cathedral has served our community well for over 150 years and deserves our support.
“In a city full of history and confident of its future, the Cathedral takes its place as an important public building. It would be a loss for all citizens, not only Catholics, to see its beauty clouded by neglect and decay.
“This is the right thing to do, and the right time to do it. The more we delay, the harder the task becomes.”