On Saturday 4 February 1905, the Coadjutor-Archbishop of Sydney, Michael Kelly (1850-1940), departed Sydney for Christchurch aboard the ss Wimmera. He was to assist at the blessing and dedication of the new Roman Catholic Cathedral in Christchurch on Sunday 12 February. He was to also preach the dedication sermon.

He arrived at Lyttelton on the morning of 10 February, accompanied by Bishop Lenihan and Fathers Spence, Boylan, O’Farrell, Gainor, Keogh, Power and Paterson. They were met at Lyttelton by Bishop Grimes, Archdeacon Devoy and Father Hickson.

The ceremony of the dedication of the Cathedral – under the title of the Church of the Adorable Sacrament – took place on the morning of 12 February. A large gathering assembled for the ceremony on a day with what was described as magnificent weather.

catholic-cathedral-christchurch-2-1-b-930px
‘Roman Catholic Cathedral, Christchurch, N.Z.’
Postcard. Author’s Collection.

Amongst those attending the function were the Governor and Lady Plunkett, the Premier, the Right Hon. R.J. Seddon and Mrs Seddon, Sir Joseph Ward; His Grace Dr Carr the Archbishop of Melbourne, the Bishops of Sale, Sandhurst, Dunedin, and Auckland.

The Wellington Evening Post of 13 February 1905 reported on the opening of the new cathedral, including the sermon by Archbishop Kelly as follows:

The dedication sermon was preached by Dr. Kelly, Archbishop of Sydney, whose text was from Psalm 117, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us be glad and rejoice therein.” He first referred to a letter of congratulation received by Bishop Grimes from the Pope, and said that after the service that morning and in the evening he would take occasion to communicate to the faithful the benevolence so paternally granted by his Holiness.

The Church, said the Archbishop, was being dedicated to the service of God, the salvation of men, and the peace and welfare of society; and the people of the colony, and the Catholics of the world rejoiced at such an occasion. He referred to the prevailing scepticism of the age, but said that centuries had shown the truth and stability of the Christian faith.. Man yearned for happiness and tranquillity and peace of soul—for the possession of perfect truth and absolute goodness; and this was the end proposed for him by a Creator of infinite wisdom and perfection.
No materialistic doctrine satisfied man. He felt he had come from God, and had relations with God, and God had appeared in the person of Christ, perfect God, and perfect Man, to be the Light of the World and Saviour of Mankind.. The preacher dealt with the benefits of the Blessed Eucharist, the foundation of all true humility. All sinned daily, and should repent daily. Men must be contrite, must confess the number of their transgressions, and make amendment to those who had suffered; and on those conditions they would receive assurance of pardon from God. Reason told them that God was the Instructor of men through Christ, and they accepted the Word of God as infallibly true. That was the foundation of their religion, and though nations might change, though political theories might come and go, the faith that was founded on the Word of God would continue for ever. In conclusion, he urged upon all the need for further generosity in order that the new Cathedral might be handed over to God free of any debt.. The service was a long and impressive one, and it was a quarter to 2 before it was concluded.

Evening Post, Volume LXIX, Issue 36, 13 February 1905, Page 6

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