BROOME will have a new Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral by 2015.
Armed with a brief produced following a diocese-wide survey last year on what the faithful want in a Cathedral, Sister Jill O’Brien SGS is now in the process of choosing the site and architect.
One of three possible sites will be chosen – the current Cathedral site on Weld Street in the Broome township and the primary and secondary school sites of St Mary’s College.
Either way, the new Cathedral will be built from scratch. The current building is constructed from asbestos and requires continual coats of paint to keep it safe.
Broome Bishop Christopher Saunders told The Record that an architect should be found by December, with drawings completed by May 2011 and the building completed four years from that time.
While the current Cathedral holds 450, the Bishop wants the new building to hold at least 650, with a covered outside section from where even more can see and participate in ceremonies.
While he wants the church to “envelop” people and keep them close to the altar, Bishop Saunders prefers it not be like some churches today, where seats wrap around the sanctuary and people can see those on the opposite side of the altar.
He is particularly impressed with the new St Benedict’s Church in Applecross, which has a front outdoor section “that draws people in”, with the building and large gathering spaces made from rammed earth.
“It will be like a large parish church in Perth – like Greenwood or Spearwood, with a structure that would make it look like a Cathedral,” Bishop Saunders said.
“I want it to be big enough to take all the students from the schools, as we don’t have any space at the moment where both primary and secondary children can gather with their parents and parishioners for an event such as First Holy Communion, Confirmation or the anniversary of Our Lady of the Missions, who is the patron of the school and for the diocese.”
He said the Cathedral must be a “synergy” between externals and internals, being a sacred space. Its sacred character would be reflected in statues, paintings or mosaics. Given the tropical climate, it must also be built so it doesn’t need to be air-conditioned nine months of the year; this would be costly, he said.
When Bishop Saunders and Darwin Bishop Eugene Hurley hosted a colloquium on the new wave of revamping and conserving Cathedrals in Darwin in 2008, Italian-born Prof Romaldo Giurgola, the architect of Canberra’s new Parliament House and Parramatta’s new St Patrick’s Cathedral, told the Broome prelate that “you are building a Cathedral in Broome, not a box for people to go into and pray. It must have sacred space. You must build a prayer – a prayer of the people”.
Such philosophy is central in his own thinking when planning the new Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral, the Bishop said.
Since its early days, Broome has had built three churches functioning as Cathedrals.
In 1895, local Filipinos helped Trappist Fr Nicholas Emo, who was in charge of the Mission Station in the town, put up a little timber church behind Streeter’s General Store in what is now referred to as Chinatown, which was burnt down sometime later; and in 1899 a timber and iron church dedicated to Our Lady of Peace was built in Weld Street with help from Filipino pearl divers.
“We have to do better than that,” Bishop Saunders said of the high number of Cathedrals over the history of the diocese. He also wants to “get away from tin”, which has been the building material of choice since early days in the far northern diocese. Bishop Saunders first arrived in Broome as a student in 1973. As a deacon two years later, the population was about 5,000. Now, the township has 15,000 with over 33,500 in the whole diocese which stretches over 773,000 square kilometres. The diocese’s participation rate is about the same as the national average – 15 per cent, the prelate said.
Salesian Bishop Ernest Coppo administered the Kimberley Vicariate between 1922 and 1928. In 1929 Fr Otto Raible SAC, took over and was consecrated Bishop in 1935. During World War II, the German Pallottine Fathers and Brothers were jailed and interned in Melbourne. Most of the population of Broome was evacuated to Beagle Bay and the Lombadina Missions.
Bishop Raible resigned in August 1958 and was succeeded by Bishop John Jobst, the first residential Bishop of Broome.