Basilica closes after wind damage

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Invercargill's St Mary's Basilica.

ONE of Invercargill’s oldest churches will remain closed for at least one more week after high winds damaged its dome.

Invercargill South Pastoral Area parish priest Rev Pat McGettigan said gale-force winds of 150km/h damaged the dome of St Mary’s Basilica church last week.

It caused damage to the 115-year-old church, with ribbing from the dome coming off and panels loosened.

“The force of that wind got underneath one of the ribbings of the dome and… took a long part of the timber that has been covered with copper plating and it was thrown into our car park and the building next door.

“Fortunately nobody has been hurt because it probably happened in the middle of the night.”

Repair work began this week but he believed the church would be closed for seven to 10 days.

“The church has been closed as other pieces could fall off,” Father McGettigan said.

Invercargill South Pastoral Area parish secretary Karen Ralston said church services were transferred to other churches in town.

However, she hoped the two concerts scheduled for next week would not need to be cancelled.

“They still are very keen to use the Basilica because it have such great acoustic but they also have a back-up plan.”

Father McGettigan said did not know the cost of the repair work but it would be covered by insurance.City landmark

Completed in 1905 to the design of the prominent late Victorian architect F.W. Petre, of Dunedin, St Mary’s Basilica was one of Invercargill city’s landmarks.

The building was listed as a Category 1 historic place on Heritage New Zealand’s list.

This weekend’s Basilica’s services will now be held at: Saturday vigil, 6pm, St Patrick’s Church, Rimu St; Sunday, 7.30am, Sacred Heart Church, North Rd; and 10.30am, St Theresa’s Church, Perth St.

Monday to Thursday and Saturday 9am weekday mass Masses normally held at the Basilica would be held in the classroom beside the marae on Eye St.

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