Major restoration work is underway to preserve Australia’s oldest consecrated Catholic Church.
St Benedict’s Church, Broadway, is the third oldest Catholic Church in Sydney, after St Mary’s Cathedral and St Patrick’s Church Hill, but it was the first to be consecrated.
The Broadway parish is working with the University of Notre Dame to raise the $1.8 million needed to restore the historic church.
St Benedict’s became the first debt-free parish in Australia – and therefore the first eligible for solemn consecration – thanks to generous donations from gold miners who left Sydney during the gold rush of the 1850s.
Time has taken its toll on the gothic church, which was the childhood parish of Norman Cardinal Gilroy, and its stonework exterior has begun to crumble.
An 18 month project to restore the exterior of the church began in July and is due for completion in December 2016. The project will restore the architectural integrity of the building with a focus on repairing structural issues and limiting further deterioration. The restoration will be respectful of the patina of age that is such a vital element of the aesthetic significance and character of the building.
The tower and spire were expected to be repaired by January, followed by work on the Broadway and Abercrombie Street facades, and later the west and south sides of the church.
The project was expected to be completed in late 2016.