Our Lady Of Fatima Waikanae

Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker
1 May 2019.

Dear parishioners,

We would like to take the opportunity to bring you up to date on our development decisions within the parish.

On Tuesday past, the current and former parish leaders met for the third time to continue their discernment and response to Cardinal John Dew’s directive to all parishes of the Archdiocese to review their parish churches and presbyteries before October 2019.

In that 15 February 2019 letter Cardinal John began by saying that it was very rare that he would “direct parishes to take certain action”, but that fact indicated the seriousness of what he was telling us what to do.

Already in our redevelopment project Cardinal John had directed us to develop an ‘integrated site” with the parish Church, hall and school on that single site. It has never been the vision of the redevelopment project team to see our new buildings and completed project as an end point but rather the continuation of our building a future full of hope for all who live in Kapiti and beyond.

We agree with Cardinal John when he wrote that rather than see these major changes to our parish or any other parishes as a “threat to the status quo” they were rather “an opportunity to let the Holy Spirit work in our midst to create a sustainable and mission-oriented future’.

Never forgetting “that Christ is with us on our Journey”, and that it is a journey for all, we want no-one to be left behind and indeed have worked hard to preserve a spirit of unity in the midst of great change.

We faced the prospect that no longer were our Church buildings, presbytery and school fit for purpose, liturgically or practically, and that overall, we as a parish needed to move on and not to do so would be irresponsible.

This decision was taken with all seriousness, as we knew what fond memories these buildings had formed for so many families and individuals in their faith journey to this point. We also knew that the decisions to be made would be a cause of some hurt. But they were decisions that ‘had’ to be made and balanced against the Parish’s long term survival and the greater good.

After its first meeting on 19 February 2019, attended by 40 of the current and former parish leaders from the Parish Pastoral Council, Liturgy committee, Finance committee and Steering groups, we reached a consensus decision, in prayer, to proceed with the closure and sale of Our Lady of Fatima Church, presbytery and ancillary buildings, but, before we did that we would write to Cardinal John seeking clarification that “we had in fact understood his letter and its intent correctly”.

After returning from his meeting in Rome at the end of February Cardinal John replied saying:

“You have indicated that seismically remediating and continuing to use the Church of Our Lady of Fatima at Waikanae is both too expensive as well as outside the spirit of my letters to all parishes.” The request to proceed with a sale process “is consistent with the direction that I gave in my pastoral letter and I approve with you proceeding with the process. I look forward to receiving a proposal in due course.”

At the second meeting on 16 April 2019, the leaders met to consider the process of closing and selling the properties at Waikanae. The consensus decision was to consider two options:

Option 1 To seek a buyer who would enable the parish to lease back OLOF at a peppercorn rent until Our Lady of Kapiti opens at Easter 2020.
Option 2 To develop the property as six sites and sell them with the money going towards the cost of Stage 2 of the parish redevelopment project.

After the Steering Group had researched both options John O’Sullivan reported back to the meeting of 30 April 2019.

From the work done by the Steering Group and advisors, Option 1 is now considered to be unlikely due to the fact that the sale of the Church to anyone would be conditional on the buyer bringing it up to 35% of New Building Standards (NBS) before being able to lease that building to anyone. Its current rating is 25%.  This course of action would be totally impractical to any buyer to spend the tens of thousands of dollars involved in rectifying the building for the sake of a short term lease arrangement.

There was no real alternative but Option 2, namely to close and to sell the Church, remove the buildings currently on the site (apart from the presbytery/office which will become part of the sale) develop the land ourselves and sell the sections created. There are expressions of interest already in two of the sections and sections would be marketed to parishioners first.

The Next Steps:

A letter has been sent to Cardinal John to inform him of the parish decision and seeking his consent to proceed with Option 2 and formally close the Church on 15 August 2019.

$50,000 from the sale of these properties will be put towards providing new and adequate storage for Saint Vincent de Paul to continue running its foodbank and outreach to the poor. 

Sunday Mass times suggested are Saturday evening 5.30 pm and Sunday 8.30 am at St Patrick’s Hall and a commitment to find a suitable venue to hold one of our Sunday masses in Waikanae prior to the new Church opening at Easter 2020.

Conclusion:

We are not just making real estate decisions and neither are we making decisions based on finance alone. We are making decisions for the future good and practice of our Catholic faith. To achieve such a goal involves sacrifice for everyone in the parish. That we have come so far is testimony to your generous spirit of sacrifice and to the depths of your lived faith. For all that we have achieved together in Christ we pray thanks as well as continuing to pray openness for all that we are yet to become in Christ.

We are providing for those who will follow us, just as we have been provided for by those who came before us