The Jubilee History of Nelson: From 1842 to 1892.
The Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic Church.
Nelson forms part of the Archdiocese of Wellington. Amongst the early settlers were several Catholic families, but they were not visited by any priest until 1844, when the late Dr. Pompalier, at that time Vicar-Apostolic for New Zealand, and afterwards Bishop of Auckland, came to Nelson, accompanied by the late Rev. J. J. P. O'Reilly, O.S.F., who was then acting as Parish Priest at Wellington.
The first mass was said by his Lordship the Vicar-Apostolic in Bridge street, in a house which had been formerly occupied by Mr. Otterson. Dr. Pompalier preached in Maori to the natives, and Father O'Reilly in English to the Europeans.
On the 9th May, Father O'Reilly said mass in the Waimea, fourteen miles from Nelson, at the house of Mr. Redwood, senr. On Sunday, 12th May, mass was again celebrated in Nelson, Father O'Reilly again preaching; and on the 13th, Dr. Pompalier said a mass for the dead.
In May, 1846, the Rev. Father O'Reilly again visited Nelson. During his visit, the Company gave a site for a church. The first trustees were Messrs. Henry Redwood, Francis Otterson, Joseph Ward, Henry Redwood, junior, and James Armstrong. In April, 1847, Father O'Reilly paid another visit, Shortly before this, the Parish diary records that "the Catholics, aided by the kind subscriptions of the Protestants, erect a little chapel on the land belonging to them. It cost about £40." This, the first Catholic place of worship, was opened on Easter Sunday, 1847.
In 1848, the Government applied to the trustees for a portion of their site for gaol purposes. To this some of the trustees were much opposed upon the ground that was left would be too steep and narrow for the erection of a permanent church; but Mr. Redwood, senior, consented, and, acting upon this, the land was taken; upon the understanding, however, that other land should be given as compensation. This has never been done.
The same month, a store, belonging to the New Zealand Company, was bought at action for £50. This was set-off against the debt due by the Company to the Catholics on account of their share of the trust funds. An acre of ground in Manuka street was obtained from the Company (valued at £35), which was also given as a further instalment of the same debt. An adjoining acre was bought for £45, and upon this the store was re-erected and converted into a priest's residence. The little chapel on the hill, at the back of the gaol, was found too small, so it was removed to the acre upon which the presbytery had been erected.
In July, 1851, the Rev. D. Moreau came as first Curate of Nelson. He started classes for French, Latin, and Mathematics.
From the first, Father Garin's schools were a success; they were numerously attended by Protestants as well as Catholics, and enjoyed for years a high reputation.
On April 1st, 1859, the Rev. Father Pons, succeeded Father Moreau as Curate at Nelson, but was replaced by Father Moreau on the 20th September, who was shortly after again removed, and succeeded by the Rev. P. A. Martin, S.M., now Parish Priest at Hokitika. Father Michel succeeded Father Martin, and in his turn was succeeded by Father Tressallet, now of Sydney. In December, 1867, the Rev. J. P. Chareyre, S.M., took Father Tessallet's place, and remained nearly four years. Then came the Rev. J. N. Binsfeld, S.M., who was succeeded by the Rev. W. J. Mahoney, S.M., on 10th February, 1875.
Bishop Viard visited Nelson, to bless the new and neat church of St. Mary's, in 1864; and he also dedicated the church of Waimea West.
In 1869, under the direction ot the Rev. Father Chareyre, S.M., the beautiful church of St. Joseph's at Wakefield, distant about 18 miles from Nelson, was erected at a cost of over £1000. It will seat about 200 persons. Two acres of land are attached to it, part of which is a cemetery.
On the death of the Venerable Archpriest Garin, in April, 1889, the Very Rev. Father Mahoney succeeded him as Rector of St. Mary's, and was also placed upon the list of Diocesan Consultors. The present Curate is the Rev. James Landouar, S.M., who acts also as chaplain to the Boys' Industrial School.
There are five churches under the immediate charge of the Rector of St. Mary's, Nelson, viz.:—-St. Mary's, Nelson; St. Joseph's, Wakefield; SS. Peter and Paul, Waimea; St. Francis, Motueka; and Sacred Heart, Takaka.
Schools: High School for Girls, 70 pupils; Industrial School for Girls, 100; Industrial School for Boys, 175—teachers, page 176eight nuns and six Marist Brothers; Convent of Our Lady of Missions—13 professed nuns, one novice, two postulants, and 30 boarders.
In the Provincial District of Nelson there are also churches at Westport, Charleston, Addison's Flat, Brighton, Waimangaroa, Reefton, Boatmans, Hampden, Lyell, Ahaura, Totara Flat, Nelson Creek, Newton, Maori Gully, and Maori Creek. To attend to which there are six priests. In all the principal towns, such as Westport, Reefton, and Ahaura, there are large educational establishments.
The present church of St. Mary's was erected in 1882, at a cost of over £2000. It took the place of the old church, which was destroyed by fire on Easter Sunday, 1881. The funds for the new church were subscribed by many persons of various creeds, the miners on the West Coast contributing over £600. The church seats about 500. There is no debt.