Bishop Brian Heenan stands outside the newly restored St Joseph’s Cathedral since the scaffolding was taken down recently.
Bishop Brian Heenan stands outside the newly restored St Joseph’s Cathedral since the scaffolding was taken down recently. Sharyn Oneill

Cathedral unveiled in its glory

I REMEMBER sitting on the glossy wooden pews, head bowed and hands folded in my lap.

Fellow church-goers in St Joseph’s Cathedral may have thought I was shy or praying, but I was simply mesmerised by the beautiful black and white chequered Italian marble floor.

Early morning church with my grandmother was never a chore at the 112-year-old structure; it was always an adventure.

I would concentrate on only stepping on the black tiles. To my reckoning, as a child, I was helping to keep the white tiles as pristine as humanly possible.

I am not particularly pious; like many I am enamoured by what I consider the most beautiful building in Rocky.

The hand-crafted stained glass windows depicting scenes from the New Testament and ornately carved sandstone have continued to captivate me even into adulthood.

And after 18 months of its magnificence being hidden by scaffolding for stonemasons making restorations to the outside of the church, it can again be viewed in all its glory.

Even Premier Anna Bligh had a peek during her visit last week.

The man who admires the Gothic-style structure more than anyone else is Bishop Brian Heenan.

He said the cathedral was as much for the people of the diocese as it was for locals.

“Anyone is welcome to come and see it. I think they would appreciate the beauty of the cathedral,” Bishop Heenan said. “It’s the best gift to hand down to future generations.”

Restorations have begun inside and Bishop Heenan assured the $6 million renovation would be completed by the middle of next year.

Landscaping, a circular driveway and a fence are still on the to do list.

The finished cathedral will be a suitable tribute to Bishop Heenan, who has been with the diocese for almost 20 years, when he retires next year. “I’ll be very sorry to leave here. I always feel God’s presence here.”

 

FAST FACTS

St Joseph’s Cathedral

Construction began on June 11, 1894

Black and white chequered Italian marble floor

Authentic leadlight windows hand-crafted in England depicting themes from The Bible



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