Celebrations were launched with the opening of the Door of Mercy at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Sunday 13 December 2015, and will conclude on 6 November 2016 with the official dedication of St John’s Chapel, former Cathedral of Maitland, showcasing the restoration project.
All diocesan agencies are participating in events to celebrate the 150th anniversary, including social services and schools. During May, Stage 2 and Stage 3 students from St Aloysius Primary, Chisholm; Our Lady of Lourdes Primary, Tarro; St John the Baptist Primary, Maitland; St Joseph’s Primary, East Maitland; St Paul’s Primary, Rutherford and St Patrick’s Primary, Lochinvar, are participating in a ‘parish life’ history competition. Students are interviewing their grandparents and senior parishioners to gather information and artefacts relating to parish life, the history of Maitland and St John's connection to other parishes. The projects will be judged and the winning entries displayed at St John’s Hall, Maitland at the ‘pop up’ museum in June and July.
The diocese is commissioning an historian to document a history of the people of the diocese as part of its 150 years commemoration. Expressions of interest for the role have now closed and applications are currently being reviewed.
The 150th commemoration events also include a run to raise funds and awareness for refugees and migrants and the contribution and diversity they bring to the Maitland-Newcastle community (see cover story). Inspired by the story of CatholicCare Refugee Service’s John Sandy, teacher Michael Eccleston will be running from St Joseph’s, Aberdeen, to San Clemente, Mayfield, from Friday 17 June to Tuesday 21 June. Local school communities will back the initiative by joining John during his journey and helping to raise awareness and funds.
On 29 October, a one-day pilgrimage commemorating Bishop James Murray’s arrival in the diocese will depart from Morpeth and conclude in West Maitland, including ‘stations’ along the way highlighting aspects of the history of the diocese. Registrations for the pilgrimage will open in the coming weeks, with further pilgrimage information available in the July edition of Aurora.
To conclude the 150 year celebrations, Bishop Bill will preside at Mass at St John’s Chapel, Maitland, and all will be welcomed. The community will be able to view phase one of the Cathedral Precinct project, including the full interior and exterior renovations to the church. Meanwhile, the restoration is progressing with exterior boarding being disassembled shortly, as the new St John’s emerges. The next step before completion in October will be refurbishment and landscaping of Bishop’s House.
The diocese welcomes all to participate in commemoration events. To learn more, visit the diocesan website or P Alyson, 4979 1117.