The plan to restore Australia's churches

A unique event focusing on the restoration of heritage Catholic churches will be held in Melbourne next month.

The National Church Architecture Symposium is jointly organised by the National Liturgical Art and Architecture Council (NLAAC) and the ACU Centre for Liturgy.

It is called Where Your Treasure Is, There Will Your Heart Be Also, and will be held at the Australian Catholic University’s St Patrick’s campus from 6-8 February. Harry Stephens, secretary of the NLAAC, an advisory body to the Bishops Commission for Liturgy of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, said the symposium was a timely event for the Catholic Church in Australia.

“We have many old churches, many of which are important historically and some of which are protected with heritage listing,” he said.

“The symposium is a completely unique event – there’s never been anything quite like this in Australia before.”

Mr Stephens said two major events would happen at the symposium: the release of a new set of guidelines for heritage churches and the launch of Cultura – a digital catalogue of Church-owned items including buildings, sacred vessels, vestments, sacred books, pieces of furniture and altars.

“The new guidelines seek to ensure that damage is not done to the heritage value of our churches during any work undertaken to make them fit for sacred use.”

Mr Stephens said while the Cultura catalogue was a first for the Church in Australia, England’s Catholic and Anglican churches had been compiling similar registers for many years.

“We also have two amazing international guest speakers. Keynote addresses will be presented by British architecture historian, author and heritage expert Sophie Andreae and leading American liturgical design consultant Richard S. Vosko,” he said.

There will also be other dynamic and engaging local presenters offering workshops, problem-based learning sessions, case studies and site visits.

 “This symposium is for all those who care about the places of Catholic worship, including clergy, parishioners, architects, artists, teachers, liturgists, designers, theology and architecture students, academics and anyone with an interest in architecture, art, artefacts and heritage,” he said.

The topics to be explored include:

  • archaeology as an aid to understanding heritage significance of churches
  • refurbishing school chapels
  • the commissioning of religious art for churches
  • the re-ordering of re-ordered churches
  • the place and nature of the confessional space in our churches
  • the location and heritage issues relating to the organ and music ministry.

For more information or to register, visit the National Church Architecture Symposium 2019 website.


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Brooke Robinson Image
Brooke Robinson

Brooke is Content Officer for the Communications Team in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle