After several months of consultation, the Catholic Parish of Hokitika Parish Council were able to communicate the outcome of the consultation process – and their recommendation - with the Parish worshipping community on the first weekend of September 2023.
In April 2023, the Parish began a consultation process with their worshipping community, by means of a survey (online and in hardcopy), and two in-person follow up meetings. This consultation approach was adopted because the Parish Council acknowledged that a community is bigger than a building – a building is an important part of a community, but not one in and of itself.
They wanted to better understand what the St Mary’s worshipping parish community want to be as a Church and what they need to practice their faith within the limitations and the challenges that the parish experiences now and in the future.
Submissions were received from groups outside of the parish worshipping community which were also acknowledged. In total, over 140 submissions were made across the Parish, school, and the wider parish community.
The Parish Renewal Team collated the feedback gained from this exercise and combined this with information regarding the challenges facing the parish at this time – including changing demographics, declining income streams, rising costs and a weak balance sheet as well as incorporating thorough risk analysis and financial modelling.
Taking all feedback and information into account it was therefore the recommendation of the parish renewal team that the Parish pursue the option to build a new fit-for-purpose Church and associated facilities.
Therefore, St Mary’s Parish Council will be seeking Bishop’s approval to proceed with the building of a new church.
The ultimate aim for the Community is to provide the resources that will allow the parish to grow in Christ and establish a vibrant faith community that is sustainable in the long term and provides a wonderful resource for our worshipping and school communities as well as the wider community of Hokitika and Westland.
The Parish does, of course, also have emotional ties to the existing St Mary’s church and no decision has been made regarding the status of the building. It is the desire of the Parish Council that they engage with the Friends of St Mary’s group who may wish to establish a charitable trust and consider taking on the restoration of the existing church building - subject to the Diocesan approval process.
The Parish Council, as a result of this consultation process, have considered the wishes of both the worshipping community and the wider community in making a decision. We hope that future collaboration will create a vibrant future for our worshipping Community and, indeed the entire community of Hokitika.