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Thursday, June 01, 2006
Church to be rebuilt at Sacred Heart site

A church is to be rebuilt at the Sacred Heart, Main Street site, Bishop of the Catholic Church in Guyana, Francis Alleyne, announced to members of the faith last evening.

Nevertheless, issues surrounding the design, size, funding, and management of the church remain to be worked out. Bishop Alleyne is to issue a comprehensive statement to appear in the Catholic Standard tomorrow.

Following a meeting last evening at the Bishop's residence in Brickdam, a member of the Committee on the Development of the Sacred Heart Site disclosed to this newspaper that Bishop Alleyne agreed to have the church built in accordance with recommendations made by the committee.

"There will be a church presence at the location," another source said the Bishop pronounced.

However, the Bishop did not agree to all of the committee's recommendations but did not specify which ones he would accept and which ones he would reject. The meeting was between members of the committee, the Bishop and representatives of the Sacred Heart parish.

The committee in its report recommended that a church be rebuilt reflecting "the architecture of the conservation area of which Main Street is a part and be of acceptable aesthetic standards."

The decision to have a church rebuilt has brought to an end many months of uncertainty on the fate of the site after the church, its presbytery, and the Sacred Heart Primary School were completely destroyed by fire on Christmas morning in 2004.

Following the fire, the Bishop had floated a proposal for the dissolution of the parish and the construction of a multi-purpose building. Members of the parish were resolutely against the dissolution of the parish.

From Sunday the church is to implement restructuring measures where clusters of parishes are to be served by a limited number of priests and it is uncertain whether Sacred Heart would have its own Jesuit priest as has been the custom.

The committee was set up after several rounds of talks over many months between Bishop Alleyne and the parish bore no fruit on what should become of the site.

In the aftermath of the fire Bishop Alleyne had leaned more towards dissolving the Sacred Heart parish as part of restructuring of the church, and using the site to construct a multi-purpose complex which would house among other things a library and a documentation centre.

The parish on the other hand wanted the church rebuilt, saying it would raise its own funds and pointing out that with the school not being rebuilt there would be enough space on the land for the Bishop's multi-purpose building and the church.

In its final report the committee recommended that the church be constructed of concrete to satisfy the needs of the Sacred Heart community and in keeping with the aesthetics of the Main Street area.

It also recommended that a presbytery be rebuilt including offices for the priest/priests in charge.

In addition the committee endorsed the construction of a multi-purpose building(s), three storeys if necessary, to accommodate a Catholic Bookshop, Library, Museum, Documentation Centre, Catholic Standard Printery and offices and Communi-cations Centre, conference centre/meeting room, religious education and youth centre with areas doubling for counselling services.

Outdoor recreation for youths and onsite car parking and landscaping were also advocated by the committee.

Stabroek News