(From a special Correspondent.)
It seems only the other day since St. Mary's parish was created, and ftlut^y there is a spacious and handsome church approaching compl<3wi upon the grounds. Father Le Menant is certainly sustaining his -reputation as a cburch-builder. A priest with less energy and determinatioD than Father Le Menant might well have been dismayed At the prospect of attempting to build a new church at St. Mary's in less time than several years. The parish was poor and the congregation scattered. The whole wordly assets of the parish consisted of the old boute, in which there was scarcely an artiole of furniture. Part of the house was turned into a temporary chapel. Father Le Menant had to do this, and to make a portion of the old place habitable for himself and his assistant priest, Father Marnane. His funds for all the work before him were almost nil. However, nothing daunted, he started. Everyone Bbook their beads dubiously at the idea of the proposed new church becoming an accomplished fact under four or five years at least. It is about eighteen months, I think, since Father Le Menant took up his abode at St. Mary's, and new the new church is there, and a very bnndsome edifice it is. The building ia a wooden one, and stands upon a slight iise at the northern side of the old house. Externally the church is plain. There is a belfry over the main door, which faces Manchester street. The windows are filled in with coloured cathedral glass. On the oater side of a little stream which flows through the grounds in front of the church there is a fine wide carriage drive, extending the whole length of the Manchester street frontage. At each end of the drive there is a gate, so that vehicles may enter at one end of the drive and pass out at the other. The grounds all aronnd are tastefully planted with flowers and shrubs. In two years or so, when these grow, St. Mary's will be one of the most beautiful places in or around Christcburch.
The chnich inside is just perfect, first there ii a great large porch inside of which collectors can Bit comfortably in all weathers without rendering tbemselvos liable to attacks of sunstroke or of rheumatism, according to the variations of the seasons. The high altar, of coarse, facet the door. The altar is large and massive. It is composed of wood with handsomely carved pillars at each end. The front of the altar will be ornamented with white panels, on which are painted various snitable designs in gold. On one side of the altar there will be a Blatne of St. Patrick, on the other side, one, I think of St. Joseph. The sanctnary itself is very spacious. It will be carpeted with a handsome crimson Brussels carpet, the gift of Mrs Perceval. The Communion rails are to be painted white and are to be upholstered in crimson velvet. The effect should be very good, indeed. From one side of the sanctuary a door leads into the vestry, which is well furnished with all conveniences. Facing the vestry at the other side of the sanctuary there is a very comfortable room , which is to be for the use of the Children of Mary and to serve as a work and meeting room for the ladies of the Altar Society. Outside of the Communion rails in recessei in tbe wall, there are the two side altars, those of the Sacred Heart and of the Bleßsed Virgin. The confessionals and the Baptismal font are also in recesses, so that the whole space of the body of the Church is unbroken. Theie is a diagonal dado of wood all around the walls. The pulpit, which is a very handsome one of highly polished rimu, will stand just ins'de of the Communion rails in the north corner of the sanctuary. The organ gallery does not extend right across the end of the church. From each corney of the gallery to the wall the space will be spanned by an arch, Bnrmounted with a cross. The teats, which are estimated to seat 150, will bo the same as those in the Timaru church. During the coming week the seats will be finished, and all tbe remaining work of polishing, varnishing, etc, will be completed, and everything in readiness for the opening next Sunday. Ab one stands at tbe dior of the church and glances around at is dimensions, one would never suppose It to be so large aa it is. This apparent smallness is due to the perfect proportions of the building. In reality, though narrower^than the Barbadoes street church, it is more than half as long again* and will, I think, accommodate more people. When it ib finished there will be a debt of something like five hundred pounds upon the church. It is to be hoped that this will be reduced at least one half upon its opening day.
Considering what were Father Le Menant'a resources when tlrs parish was established so short a time ago, I think it mast be conceded that he has done wonders. His parishoners certainly owe him a lasting debt of gratitude for the indefatigable manner in which he hai worked and surmounted all difficulties. As he looks around at what he has done be may well be proud of all that he has achieved. In a few months he has given to his people a fine church, and be has bad the sound sense to not run them irretrievably into debt by building a costly edifice which they could not afford. He has worked well and judiciously and it is to be hoped that the life of this good little priest will be a long one in which to enjoy beneath tbe shadow of St. Mary's the growing and ripening into Iruit of the seed which he so well has sown.
The opening ceremonies will extend over three days. On Sunday morning at eleven o'clock Mass, Archbishop Redwood will preach, and Dr. Watters of St. Patrick's college in the evening. On Monday evening Father O'Donnell, of Darfield, wih occnpy the pulpit, and on Tuesday evening Father Cummings will preach. very sorry to have to chronicle this week, the departure fronlflknterbury of as good a priest and as true-hearted a friend as ever set foot in this province. I mean Father Binsfeld, the predecessor of Father O'Connor at RaDgiora and Kaiapoi. There was something about Father Binsfeld which made one feel sure that once he became your friend he was your friend for life. He was the kind of frank, sincere man that one could not help feeling better for knowing. He was one of the pioneer prießtß of Norih Canterbury, like Father Le Menant, he was a church builder. The preity churches at Kaiapoi, Oxford, and Rangiora, owe their existence to
him. To the latter parish he was warmly attached. His taste in artistic matters generally, and church decorations particularly, wai faultless. He was uncommonly shrewd, and clear headed. He gave to his old parishes the benefit of his superior intelligence in building their churches, and ia setting the parochial house in order. The scenes of his early labours will now know him no more, bat his woik will live behind him. He was a parfect type of an earnest devoted priest and a polished gentleman. I was sorry, indeed, to see this good old priest turn nib back to Canterbury, One meets two few men of Father Binsfeld's kiDd in one's journey through life to not experience regret at bidding goodbye to these few when they are met with. He takes with him the good wishes of all his old friends, and moßt sincerely, I hope, that on the other side of the Strait, the remainder of hia life will be as happy and as comfortable as his hard labour* here, his good «xample, and his sterling qualities deserve. Next Friday morning, the Feast of the Assumption, the children attending the Barbadoes street church are to make their first Com* munion. There will, I believe, be a large number of children to thus celebrate the feast of Our Lady. The ladies of the Altar Society have undertaken to provide breakfast for the children in the schoolroom, It is a pity for the little ones that the feast day falls on a Friday, as their repast will necessarily be Bomewhat of a lentea description. The cabinet, which I before mentioned as being destined as a wedding presented for Mr. W. O'Brien, M.P., was exhibited in Milner and Thomson's window for the pa6t week or two, and attracted considerable attention. Mr. John Dillon and Sir Thomas Esmond* were aeked to made the presentation on behalf of the subscribers. A letter containing this request was forwarded by the last mail to these gentlemen, as well as one to Mr. O'Brien, begging his acceptance of the cabinet. Copies of the letters were published in tho local papers. Matter of fact persons may consider such a presentation; somewhat sentimental. If Mr. O'Brien is not very much unlike themajority of mankind, I think he will not find fault with sentiment when it takes that form. I for one should be sorry to see hard-faced old matter-of-fact jostle sentiment out of court altogether, If this were done, human thought and feeling, and human life would be much less pleasant than they are at present. The Rev. Father O'Connor is at Akaroa just now for the benefit of his health. It is to be hoped that the change will be beneficial.
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New Zealand Tablet, New Zealand Tablet, Volume XVIII, Issue 16, 15 August 1890
CHRISTCHURCH. New Zealand Tablet, Volume XVIII, Issue 16, 15 August 1890
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