The current St Francis Xavier’s Church in Ernest Street will be retained and refurbished,becoming a hall to be shared by the parish and St Francis Xavier’s Catholic Primary School.
The building of a new church has been discussed in the parish for more than twenty years.
Bishop Bill Wright said the parish community recently undertook a process of consultation to determine if there was general agreement on building a new church and on the proposed exterior and interior design concept.
“After extensive consultation within the parish, including a form that every parishioner was invited to complete, regular bulletin notices, digital presentations after Mass and posters displayed at all parish churches, parishioners overwhelmingly approved the proposal of building a new church at Belmont,” Bishop Bill said.
“I’m pleased to announce formally today that building will commence in 2014 and hopefully will be concluded by Easter 2015.”
Architect's Impressions (click to enlarge)
East Lake Macquarie parish, which also encompasses St Patrick’s Church in Swansea and St Pius X Church in Windale, has carefully planned over the course of the past twenty years to meet the cost of a new church. The churches and halls in Swansea and Windale have all undergone transformations in the recent past and the new church in Belmont will mean that facilities for the whole parish are modern, safe and accessible.
“The present hall and demountable buildings have come to the end of their life. They are inadequate for larger crowds and funerals, the parking arrangements are messy, and the current hall, meeting rooms and church at Belmont all pose safety and accessibility concernsfor elderly or disabled parishioners. It is good to finally be able to remedy that.’
The approved design will connect the new church and the hall, provide shared toilet facilities, create parish office and meeting room spaces and feature wide ramps from both street frontages for accessibility. The completed church and hall will have no steps to navigate.
Parishioner of East Lake Macquarie Parish and Chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council, Dianne Taylor, said the new church will reinvigorate the worshipping community in Belmont.
“The design of the new church has been carefully considered to reflect aspects of our faith that are important to us. The image of the ‘new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven’ (Apoc. 21:1-4) is our guiding theme. It is a reminder to us that the Church is the beginning of the Kingdom, it is always in a process of change and as pilgrims we are striving to grow closer to Christ together. It is meant as a place that people encounter the Lord and each other,” Ms Taylor said.
Plans for the new church should be approved by Christmas with the tendering stage to follow. It is hoped that building will commence in March or April 2014 and be concluded by Easter 2015.
Architects, Killen and Doran, of Wickham have worked with the parish to create a space that is heavily influenced by light and water and is durable, easy to maintain and low in running costs. Noted iconographer, Michael Galovic, will design many of the windows in the church so that the end result will be similar to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Bunbury, Western Australia.