On Thursday 27 April, a fire was lit in the day chapel of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Palmerston North, behind the main sanctuary.
The chapel curtain was set alight, which destroyed the presider’s chair, side table and scorched side of the altar.
Thanks to the efforts of people in and around the Cathedral the fire did not progress; however there is extensive smoke damage.
The Cathedral was closed immediately, allowing for a police investigation and expert damage assessment. As a consequence of this assessment, it has been decided the Cathedral will remain closed for the time being and Masses and other sacraments will be celebrated at Our Lady of Lourdes and St Mary’s until the clean up work has been completed (click here for mass times).
In a statement issued on Sunday 30 April, Fr Joe Grayland outlined the reasons for closing the Cathedral:
- The air quality in the Cathedral would impact negatively on all people;
- All the surfaces (carpet, walls, chairs, etc) must be cleaned before we can use the Cathedral, the Gathering Area, and the Lounge;
- Smoke damage means we must clean all the vestments, cloths, and robes.
“The fragility of life is omnipresent and the fragility of possessions is a truism; here one day, gone the next,” Fr Joe said in a post on the Cathedral website. “Our faith and our reasoning, working together, guide us to consider that there is more to being human than being concerned with possessions.”
“We are called to hear and proclaim the Easter Alleluia throughout Eastertide. It is the promise and the reminder that we are ‘Easter People’.”
On Sunday, a 34-year-old man was arrested in relation to the fire. He is due to appear in the Palmerston North District Court on Monday 1 May.
Fr Craig Butler, local administrator of the Diocese, has asked everyone to please pray for the parishioners and staff of the Cathedral during this time, and also for the perpetrator of this senseless vandalism.
For more information:
Large cleanup ahead after fire damage at Palmerston North cathedral
Police charge man with arson after fire at Palmerston North cathedral