Talks and Presentations by Past Parishioners
The following are transcripts of talks, speeches or writings on the History of the Bluff Parish. They have been copied exactly as written with no changes being made in either language, grammar or writing style. These are personal writings or memories.
The following Presentation by George Walters was given on the occasion of an evening called “Down Memory Lane” to celebrate the year 2000.
Your Grace Archbishop Hurley, Reverend Fathers, fellow parishioners.
In the absence of Howard Wilkins due to ill health, I was approached by Brian Reynolds to give a short rendition of earlier days on the Bluff and in the parish. The theme of this evening’s get together is “Down Memory Lane”, so I would like to give you a glimpse of what it was like to live on the Bluff in those early days.
These are some of my memories. There was no Bayhead Road or Edwin Swales Drive so you had to travel along Umbilo or Maydon Roads into South Coast Road and then into Sidar Road which had a one way wooden bridge made of railway sleepers crossing the small stream there. Any traffic larger than a car had to traverse Jacobs Road to the Bluff passing through a set of railway booms.
As children we lived a sort of Tom Sawyer – Huckleberry Finn existence. Our water supply was from corrugated iron tanks, which caught rainwater off the roof. Every home still had an outside loo, which was a terrifying experience for a child to use after dark. To take a hot bath we had to burn paper or twigs in the base of a copper water geyser, which took about twenty to thirty minutes to heat up. Every home had paraffin lamps and candles as when a heavy wind blew the lights always went out and homework was done by candlelight. The smell of the cooking of whales, which came from the Whaling station, is something you never got used to.
During the war years we had to block off the windows with shuttering at night so as not to let the light show as enemy submarines had been sighted off our coast.
Wardens used to patrol and would soon let you know if any light was visible. There were no streetlights. Special fittings were placed over car headlights so that only a slit of light shone through and could not be seen from the air. Searchlights scanned the skies at night as a precaution. My parents like many other Durban families helped alleviate the loneliness of visiting servicemen who were far from home.
There were only one or two oil tanks and mangroves covered most of the bay. Flamingo’s used to feed on the sandbanks in their thousands. Fish was in abundance. We used to camp on Salisbury island over the weekend crossing the bay at low tide and returning a day or two later on another low tide. The water was crystal clear, the sand was white and shells were plentiful. I can remember three houseboats on the bay (a barge with a self-contained house built on it). We used to love to watch the Sunderland flying boats taking off and landing on the bay and the Union Castle Line Mail boats depart every Thursday.
Fynnland beach with its sports-field, shady trees and diving jetty was the local venue for all gatherings and sports events organized by Councillor Nagle. One of our largest and most successful church fetes was held there. How many people can remember the Bluff Grand Prix and hill climb for motorcycles which was a draw-card for the whole of Durban. It was an exciting day with plenty of crashes into the bush.
A popular ride was the funicular railway from Harcourt Hotel down the hill to Brighton Beach. The only road access to Brighton Beach was down Strand Road, which was a one-way with a lay-bye, as two cars could not pass one another. As far as I know both the railway and road are now covered by bush. We saw the tidal pool being built. I am not sure but guess it was about 1946 – 48.
The only Post Office was a mobile one.
There were only two houses in the area, which is now Marlborough Park, and I used to cycle on a path through the bush to get fresh milk from local smallholder. On the way I had to pass a huge baobab tree with a hollow in it large enough to climb in and which was also a home for wild bees. Sadly this tree was cut down when Marlborough Park was developed. Blue duiker, bushbuck, monkeys, mongoose, wildcat, bush babies and snakes were plentiful. My brother Stan was twice bitten by night adders. Sadly we saw the last python shot on the Bluff. The Bluff was a butterfly collector’s paradise. How often do you see them now?
My brothers and I attended St Henry’s College affectionately known as Marist Brother’s in Ridge Road. We had to catch three buses to school. The Fynnland bus as far as Davenport Road, then the Glenwood trolley bus as far as the Glenwood terminus and then the Manor Gardens bus to Ridge Road, no wonder that many times I used to fall asleep on the way home and pass my stop. Three hours of homework was normal. My mother had the principal ban American comics as she said they were affecting our education. I think it was tiredness, what with all the travelling and homework.
Our religious education was well catered for and I still believe there is nothing better than learning the Penny Catechism by heart. (By the way it now costs five Rand). I have fond memories of the school chapel especially the devotion to Mary during the Month of May with all the flowers and singing and also the Corpus Christi processions from the Cathedral to Albert Park.
My Dad was a very proud man and in spite of the Principals protests was still paying school fees three years after I left school in 1950.
Maybe our younger generation can learn a lesson from that, when I hear them say they are struggling to make ends meet. Yes, it was also difficult in those days.
My earliest recollections are of Mass being held in the Gladys Mount Scout Hall in Bluff Road, which was a wood and iron shack in those days. Mrs Winkworth kept the mass kit in her house, prepared the altar and the hall for Mass before the arrival of the priest Father Jenn on horseback. This hall was also used for Sea Scouts meetings, local dances and cinema. We attended Mass at several venues, the Mdumbi Shellhole Hall, the Assembly Hall at Wentworth and of course the St Francis Xavier Mission Church. In those days we had to fast from midnight before receiving Holy Communion.
As a child I can remember Mrs Winkworth calling once a month to collect half a crown, which was two shillings and sixpence, (twenty five cents today) and any jumble. Mrs Cavanagh used to collect money and any jumble from all the Catholic families from Beacon Road towards Wentworth.
My brothers and I used to cycle along a bush-path to the Mission Church and if we arrived a little late we used to sneak up into the choir loft or use the side chapel where you could see the nun’s sitting in the chapel on the other side of the altar. The main part of the church was filled with Africans and it was a memorable experience to hear them sing. They would put us to shame. Although my Father used to be an altar boy at the Cathedral in his younger days, it was my Mother, a protestant who saw to it that we went to Holy Mass. My Mother later became a Catholic, being received into the Church on the 4th April 1953.
I can remember the beautiful crucifix, which stood at the Corner of Baudry and Sormany Roads. The cross was made of cast-iron which eventually corroded and the cast-iron figure of Christ now adorns the outside of our present church now mounted on a wooden cross.
The present bell comes from the Old Mission church tower and used to ring the Angelus and call people to Mass. I am unable to find any history of the crucifix and bell when they were purchased or their origin.
As today there were many people who worked tirelessly for the Church. Some of those that come to mind are Mrs Winkeworth, Mrs Cavanagh, Reg and Rita Scale, Ted and Joey Basson, Howard and Agnes Wilkins, Peggy Ellis, Gloria Glenn, The Reddings, The Christies, my own parents who were sacristans at St Joseph and St Brendan and received Papal medals in 1975 and many others past and present members of the Catholic Women’s League, St Vincent de Paul Society, and Knights of Da Gama.
It was at the church of St Joseph and St Brendan at a Sunday morning mass when it was raining heavily that I heard my Dad say “don’t worry my son will take you home”. At the time I thought what is my Dad getting me into now. Well that was how I met the young lady Merle Mc Naughton who was to become my wife. We were married in the church of St Joseph and St Brendan on the 4th April 1959. Fr Coughlan officiated and the reception was held at Mdumbi Shellhole Hall. Peggy Ellis sang at our reception 41 long years ago. The song she sang was “Always”, which of course was always our favourite. We spent our honeymoon at Genezanno on the Natal North Coast. We spent 36 wonderful years together being blessed with six children who received all their Catholic training for the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation from Sister Jacinta and her able assistants.
Sadly my beloved wife passed away in my arms after a long illness on the 24th May 1995.
Father Julian who was also ill was of great comfort to her, bringing her daily communion during the last weeks of her life. It is at times like these that one realizes the strength of their faith and the support of a loving community.
The following speech was made by Mr Charles Anderson welcoming Fr. Andy Slowey and his Sister Eileen to the St. Francis Xavier Parish on the occasion of Fr. Slowey’s Golden Jubilee to the Priesthood on 5th July 1997.
I would like to welcome Fr. Andy Slowey, and his sister Eileen, to our Parish. On behalf of the parish I congratulate you, Fr., on reaching that magnificent milestone…the Golden Jubilee of your Priesthood.
I attended your jubilee Mass at Woodlands last Friday evening when Fr. Barry Wood spoke of the number of churches you were instrumental in building. My mind went back to the day in 1974 when you arrived here at St. Francis Xavier….Here you found an old priest’s house and two old churches…St. Joseph & St. Brendan at Fynnland and the original St. Francis Xavier. Soon you and the parish council decided to revamp our spiritual complex. The first step was to sell St. Joseph & St. Brendan at Fynnland, and to demolish St. Francis Xavier and the priest’s house. On this site a new St. Francis Xavier and priest’s house would be built, which is now well known throughout South Africa. I remember well the months you had to live in a classroom at Our Lady of Natal Convent…..Mass was celebrated in the school hall. For Christmas and Easter the Mass was celebrated in a large tent……but in the end the magnificent church of St. Francis Xavier, and the growth in the faith of the parish, stands as a symbol of your endeavours……..Fr. Slowey for this we salute you!
Golden jubilees are always wonderful occasions…..in married life, the children, grandchildren and family gather around to celebrate the day……a carnival spirit prevails… there is food and drink on the table and music and laughter is the order of the day…a spirit of joy fills the air. Now, I am not suggesting that you should get married….for in fact you took that step fifty years ago when you joined the O. M. I. Order. The years have passed …and time has found you to be a faithful and loyal partner to your priesthood. In your journey through life you have acquired a spiritual family of the many parishioners who have come in contact with you…..parishioners who have looked to you as a father, for guidance and advice as they walk the thorny road of life.
Now we are gathered here tonight as your spiritual family….to gather around you and celebrate with food, drink, music and laughter…….and to extend that spiritual feeling even further. I believe that Fr. Eric has been praying, and I believe that through his prayers, St. Jameson has arrived here for you take home with you tonight!…so on behalf of us all …WELCOME HOME FR. SLOWEY. And we are very glad that your sister, Eileen, is here to celebrate with us tonight………
The following is a talk given by Howard Wilkins on the Growth of the Parish from 1945 to 2000
I am going to make a comparison between our Parish of 1945 and our parish of today, because this comparison is only made possible by our parishioners of today and yesteryear under the guidance and leadership of our priests.
In 1945 my wife, two daughters and came to live on the Bluff there was much bush. A few houses, numerous snakes and of course the original inhabitants, monkeys, some of whose descendants visit us now and again when we are at mass.
Parishioners could attend mass in the mission church, which stood where the toilets are and the presbytery where our church is. On the left of the mission church were two classrooms for a mission school run by the Holy family sisters.
We did not own the land where our hall and presbytery complex is today.
Parishioners could also attend mass once a month in the scout hall down near Fynnland station. Fr. Jenn was our parish priest at the time.
In 1951 St. Joseph and St. Brendan church was built in Lighthouse Road. A double barrel name.
Sister Brendan not “St. Brendan” was a teacher at St. Joseph’s Convent in Convent Lane off Smith Street, Durban. Sr. Brendan was well known on the Bluff having taught many of our children, including our daughters.
Sr. Brendan was also visiting an elderly retired Catholic businessman in Durban and as he was deteriorating in health, he asked sister what he could do with his money as he had “no living relatives whatsoever to leave it to”. Sr. Brendan suggested he leave it to build a church, which was badly needed on the Bluff. Thus St. Joseph and St. Brendan.
Approximately mid 1950 when Fr Duffy was our parish priest the Archdiocese decided to introduce planned giving – later known as dedicated giving and now as we know it – stewardship giving.
The Fynnland and Brighton Beach parishioners were invited to a dinner at the Killarney Hotel – on the house. My wife together with other ladies of the parish, was a hostess to assist the priest and organisers at this function.
And at this dinner “Planned giving” was explained and all parishioners asked to financially support the church by signing a pledge card, just as we do today. It was from that time on that parishes started to move forward as a regular and steady income was more or less assured.
In 1974 we had a change of priest and at Fynnland church on Sunday our new priest introduced himself from the altar, stating, “I am your new priest. My name is Fr Slowey – S.L.O.W.EY. – not Fr Slowey”.
Fr Slowey was with us for ten years and it was during that time that the greatest changes and expansion took place.
In 1975 it was decided that the Fynnland and Brighton Beach parishes combine to form one central parish community at the mission church site.
So Fynnland church and a property at Wentworth were sold.
Plans for our new church were drawn and tenders called for.
And as is customary even today, any major project has to be authorised by the Archdiocese.
So Fr Slowey was invited to a Diocesan meeting in Pietermaritzburg to ask for permission to proceed.
Fr Slowey lead the delegation of late George Christie, Parish Council Chairman – Cathy Bar, Choir Mistress, and myself, Chairman of the Social and Fund Raising Committee, to the meeting in Pietermaritzburg where relevant questions were asked and answered. We came away with permission to go ahead.
Still in 1975 the Mission church, classrooms and presbytery were demolished.
When they demolished the church they found a bottle in the brickwork and a note inside the bottle.
I do not recall all the details on the note but it recorded that the original church was built in 1880 and rebuilt in 1921 and who were the Bishops and priests.
Our present church bell is from the demolished church and the statue of Our Lady in the garden was on top of the bell tower.
We were now a fairly large combined parish without a church or presbytery.
The Dominican Sisters very kindly loaned father a classroom in the Pre-primary School, which served as a bedroom for father and an office from which he ran the parish.
We had mass in the hall of Our Lady of Natal School.
In 1977 we had mass in our new very unique church and the dedication took place in 1981.
I will come back and tell you why our church is so unique.
It was not long before Fr Slowey bought the land on which our presbytery and hall complex stand. It was not level but father, through connections in the engineering department of the City of Durban, had the site levelled at no cost.
A little later on father had the hall built and we were very sorry when father was transferred to Montclair.
I will tell you now why our church is so unique. It is a house of prayer and a parish complex we should all be very proud of because you have helped to make it what it is.
Have you ever taken particular note of our altar, donated by a parishioner? It is a solid dressed slap of granite and facing you are three round recesses which were for motives which were broken and never replaced.
It was quite an exercise to get the slap into the church and positioned on its supports.
And I think I can safely say that in the Archdiocese it is the only thief proof altar.
Another unique feature is the very finely hand carved wooden stations of the cross and the life size hand carved wooden corpus on the cross as you enter the church.
They come from Oberammergau in Bavaria.
Fr Coughlan our parish priest in the early 60’s went over to Oberammergau to get permission to stage the passion play which we know is staged every so many years, and finished running in April this year. The very first staging of the passion play had a number of Bluff parishioners in it. The late George Christie was Pontius Pilot and the Virgin Mary was the daughter of Dr O’ Reagan, a parishioner.
And when father returned he brought back the Stations and the Corpus. The Corpus and the Cross stood directly behind the altar in Fynnlands church.
Our church is unique also in that it issues a silent invitation to all to come and worship our Lord. You have noticed the two large concrete beams running through the church – they open wide at the rear of the church and extend beyond the rear wall.
On the rear wall between these extended beams is a crucifix – a life size cast iron Corpus on a cross.
And as these beams run through the church towards the altar they narrow and extend beyond the glass window. They do not meet. From the end of these beams hangs a plain wooden cross.
Outside on the rear wall is the symbol of our Lord’s crucifixion and behind the altar, just a cross – our Lord has risen!
Not only has Our Lord risen but at times we seem to forget that Our Lord is ever present in the tabernacle.
If you look beyond the cross you see only our Lord’s creations – the trees, the sea and the sky.
These two beams opening wide symbolise the out-stretched arms of Our Lord inviting us to come to him and listen to his teachings.
We are truly a very blessed parish – a parish we can be proud of.
I would like you to reflect for a moment on the comparison I spoke of – for if my memory serves me correctly – we had ten resident parish priests during that time and not one of them brought with them a large cheque book or a suitcase full of bank notes.
They came, took great care of our spiritual welfare and lead and guided us in projects for the growth and expansion of our parish.
None of which would have been possible if it were not for the generous financial support and co-operation of the parishioners of today and yesteryear.
Sunday 25 and 26 August will be dedication Sunday when we will be asked to renew and sign pledge cards for the financial support of our parish.
My appeal to you is “please make a pledge”, which will be known only to you, Our Lord, and the confidential secretary.
We need more parishioners to make a commitment so that we can maintain our properties and plan for further expansion such as our wall of remembrance, which is in the process of construction.
Thank you for listening to me and bless you.
Notes on the Bluff parish (Fynnland area) as remembered by Mrs Ethel Winkworth
The Winkworths first came to the Bluff in 1927 and lived at Wentworth, a small settlement of approx. 100 people. Not knowing there was a Catholic church on the Bluff, they therefore had to attend Mass at the Cathedral in Durban or go several miles to Greyville.
After being at Wentworth for 2 or 3 months Mrs Winkworth noticed a priest pass regularly by on horseback and later learned he was Father Jenn.
In the year 1929 they shifted to Kings view; the well-known Marine Drive had not been made and most of the area around was dense bush.
It was in October 1929 that they finally came to Fynnland, and had been there about two years when they found that there was a Sunday school class held at Gladys Mount Hall, now known as the Fynnland Scout Hall, to which all children attended, of all religions. After informing the Priest of this state of affairs, Mrs Winkworth was asked to bring together all catholic children and eventually started a catechism class on her own lawn in from of the house on Saturday afternoons.
Several months later a priest (1931) came from the city regularly twice a month to say Mass at (Mrs Pringles) home, this continued for a period of two years, and then later Mass started at Gladys Mount Hall with a congregation of 8 adults and several children. It was a difficult task to clean and prepare the hall ready for Mass as the “Moths” or some other organization would have had a meeting on the Saturday evening and Mrs Winkworth would have to leave home very early in the morning on the Sunday and work furiously to clean up all the debris and bottle tops in time for Mass.
Father Senechal came over from Clairwood and was asked to take the catechism class on Saturday afternoons at Mrs Winkworth’s home. Sisters Brendan and Francis Paul took over this class in the year 1938, which had now grown to 30 children. Mrs Winkworth was always pleased to see a new face at Mass and made it her duty to inquire as to whether they had young children who would be interested to attend the catechism class on Saturdays.
Father Wiest arrived in Fynnland about that time, he said Mass at Merebank, Fynnland and Clairwood. On some occasions he would arrive for the service at 8.30 instead of 7.30, and by this time some of the congregation would be thinking of leaving and others would have begun to take the altar down. Finally a weary, grease smeared father would appear saying that his motor bike had broken down, and he was forced to mend it on the road. Sometimes he would say Mass, if there was time, but usually it was too late, so he would just give his blessings and leave; on other occasions he just didn’t make an appearance at all.
It was father Wiest who started the Communion Class. He came three afternoons a week to instruct the Children, Tues, Thurs, and Saturdays. In 1939, 32 children made their first Communion and had the breakfast at the “Eldorado Tea Gardens”, now known as the Barbecue, which at that time was owned by Mrs Landsberg.
The day before the first Communion, 2 priests came out to hear Confession and much to their discomfort, one was forced to hear Confession in a poky and drab little annex to the hall, and the other in his car which was parked under a tree outside, owing to the fact that the hall was closed.
About 1942 Father Jenn took over everything, as the people had to be served from the Mission. Most of the children started to stay away as they couldn’t understand his French accent.
Mrs Landsberg and Mrs Winkworth went to Congella to see Father Keretre (Kerautret) about sending a Priest from the Cathedral in Durban, but unfortunately he could not arrange anything as they were short of Priests all around. The ladies then decided to Bishop Delalle, but not having an appointment they were forced to wait around in the lounge for almost an hour. When finally the bishop saw them they discovered that it had been a waste of time, for they were promptly told to have patience and just wait.
In the meantime the Congregation was steadily growing, and to help things along even more, they held regularly cake sales and also had a children’s fancy dress contest and cake sale one year, the total came to 50/.
Bishop Hurley came out to Fynnland in 1948, held Mass and discussed buying ground to build a church and also to see the size of the congregation – the hall was packed.
In May 1949 a priest was sent from town, Father Boyce, and he remained with them until Father Coughlan took over 6 months later.
One Sunday Mrs Winkworth went down to prepare the hall and found a message to say that they could not hold Mass that day, also the Scout Master had made sure of nobody entering by putting bars across the fan light. Mrs Winkworth went straight home and took her son back with her to knock the bars out. He climbed through and opened the hall from the inside.
Father Coglan (Coughlan) arrived on the scene when all this was taking place and after Mass he spoke to Mr Van Dorn who was a member of the Moths and asked him if they could possibly hold Mass at the Mother’s hall.
On December the 10th they held a Christmas party at Mrs Winkworths home and had a tree decorated on the front lawn. Those present were Bishop Hurley, 6 priests, Sisters Brendan and Francis Paul, 75 children and all the parents.
Mass continued at the Moth’s hall until the church was completed, and in the year 1951 the first Mass was held in the new church. The population and the congregation has grown know from those days to such an extent that Mrs Winkworth cannot sit at the back of the church and count them all as she used to in the past.
Notes on Bluff Mission as remembered by J.D. Davison
I first attended the Bluff Mission church about 1940. There were approximately 30 European Catholics at Mass on Sundays, and a large congregation of Natives, adults and children, as a Native Govt. Aided School was attached to the Convent adjoining.
About 1942 Rev. Father Jenn arranged to say Holy Mass at Fynnland every other Sunday, and the only place available for this purpose was the Sea Scouts Hall – a little wood and iron lean-to.
This was necessary because there were about 15 Catholic families at Fynnland, who were unable to attend the mission.
Arrangements were made, and all the Altar equipment and vestments were packed into a large suitcase and kept at the home of Mrs Winkworth, and each Sunday together with other helpers Mrs Winkworth brought the suitcase and also flowers, the hall had to be swept and tidied before Mass, and while this was in progress, Father Jenn sat in a corner hearing confessions, while the penitent knelt on the floor at his feet.
On many occasions and quite factually, father Jenn had to call on some families to waken them up to come to Mass.
On one memorable occasion His Lordship (then Bishop D.E. Hurley) came out to the little Hall to offer Holy Mass, and to meet the people. He was obliged to vest in the small porch leading into the hall. Because of its lowliness we thought and spoke of it as “The Stable at Bethlehem”.
As Rev father Jenn grew old and ill and a young Priest (N. Coughlan OMI) took his place the Sunday Holy Mass was held at the Moth Hall, until eventually a fine Church was built to meet the needs of the growing population.
Minutes of Meeting held at Fynnland Hall on 20th August 1973, to make a decision regarding the site for a single Parish Centre on the Bluff.
The meeting opened at 7.30 pm with a prayer by His Grace Archbishop Hurley.
His Grace Archbishop Hurley, Rev Fathers Hennessey, P. Evers, and
J. Williamson, Mr J. Busschau and close on 200 members of the congregation.
Mr Busschau began by thanking the congregation for their attendance at the meeting. He went on to say –
At the moment we have one Parish on the Bluff, but three centres. The church at Brighton Beach, Wentworth which is only a hall and Fynnland Church. By having three centres, the parish is not united and it is the opinion of most parishioners, that there should be only one church. The buildings at Brighton Beach are old and will not stand up to the weather for very much longer. Wentworth has no building, but only hire a hall. Fynnland buildings are relatively new, but in bad need of repairs. Repairs could cost in the region of R13 000.
We have invested R
The land over at Wentworth could be sold for approximately R50 000.
The use of the three areas. Wentworth is a hall, which is not ours. Fynnland has buildings that could stand for many years, but needs a lot of repair. Brighton Beach is in a quiet locality, but slightly away from the bus route.
In order to make a single parish of the three segments, the best way is to have one centre only. The point is where to have it.
Suggestion for a site, which is more central. The price of land does not go down. We would have to pay an enormous amount for a big enough property.
The Council has discussed this at length for 2 or 3 years. Nothing has been done because no one has wanted to take the final decision. The Councils’ view is that Brighton Beach is the best site to have for the single centre of the parish, because of the quietness and lack of traffic noise during Mass. The bus problem could be overcome if Brighton Beach was used as the single centre. This is a 2 or 3-phase operation, which could take up to 5 years.
Close Wentworth and Brighton Beach and use Fynnland as a centre for Mass. Once this is in operation all of Brighton Beach buildings would be razed and a new church building and priests’ house could be built. Once that church is built, all parish activity would move over to Brighton beach and Fynnland would be closed down.
Views for and against the subject are called for.
Mrs M. Thompson:
In my opinion it would be very inconvenient for people over at Fynnland for sending children to catechism. Busses could be arranged for Mass, but not for catechism.
Mr W. McGee:
Have you considered where your population is most dense? Where is your flat land going to be; at Fynnland or Brighton beach. These matters would have to be taken into consideration.
Mr J. Busschau:
In reply to Mrs Thompson’s question; this centre will only come into operation in possibly 2 or 3 years time, by which time it is hoped that we would have many more people to offer transportation. Points could be allocated along the route for children to be collected.
In reply to Mr McGee’s question; at the moment, 65% of the parishioners live at Fynnland. At the moment there are more flats etc, at Wentworth more than anywhere else. There is no vacant ground to be found in Fynnland or Brighton Beach. In the future the population would tend to move towards Brighton Beach, which would make Fynnland more off centre.
Mrs M. Thompson:
What about development in progress already, towards the harbour.
Mr J. Busschau:
This has been taken into account with the City Council and around the Wentworth area, there will be more flat developments over the next 5 years. There are quite a few areas already allocated for flats.
Mr M. King:
There is a need for a tremendous forward looking in this parish. The basic plan is for making a single centre. The thing we have got to look at now is, is this going to be able to serve the community in say 30 years time. Are we trying to provide a place for giving out the Sacraments. Creating a centre on the Bluff for all our people. What are the Archbishop’s ideas. We do not need to worry about transportation at this stage. It will be many years before the people will look to it as a centre.
I can give no specific answers. This is a time of transition and change and we must cater for needs as they are developing now. In answer to a few questions of Mr Kings:
- Kind of buildings we require.
- Ecumenical implication.
- Best locality for all this.
I am not sure if I can give a very clear reply at this stage.
Type of buildings: Much can be said about multi-purpose buildings. The church at Virginia was a hall and has now been turned into a church and hall centre. Kloof also has a multi-purpose building.
Much has been said here about the need for Catechetical classes. At the moment we are in a state of flux. In our neighbouring parish of Christ the King, they are gathering teachers in one place with smaller groups of children. It seems to be the idea of the future to get everyone involved. On wonders if there is a need for big premises for Sunday schools.
Where is the church going? I can only say that it is going Ecumenical and that there are many problems. In a large parish like the Bluff, there are problems.
People require a Catechetical centre. Possibly we could plan a multi-purpose building like Kloof with the church section small, but which could be extended to serve as a hall. If we had one centre at Brighton Beach or elsewhere we could build along these lines. There would be no need to go in for a large hall or church as they are used so seldom. These are the possibilities.
Father P. Evers:
We want to work for the future. This place here at Fynnland is too small. At Brighton Beach we have 2 acres. At Fynnland we have less than 1 acre. The noise from traffic is a big consideration. There is a swimming bath right alongside here and there will be noise from that. Brighton Beach is quiet.
Catechism: We have the Sisters and all their classrooms at Brighton Beach. The conformation of the Bluff is a very scattered one. We would need at least 75 catechists. I do not think the parish is ready for little groups of teachers. Also we cannot have 4 or 5 groups together. We have the convent and all their classrooms and the children could come over before or after church to the school, or we could have room enough in our centre to have classrooms. All this is very difficult to decide, but I am pleased His Grace has come tonight. We understand the situation now. We want to plan for the future. We should have a big church. We cannot have a small church.
What is a big church? A big church for the Bluff is not the same as for other churches, say Assumption or Holy Trinity. 850 People come to church, so we would need place for 500. 3 Masses here would be enough. If we decide to have a centre in Brighton beach, we may discover that Fynnland is big enough. But for the future and for the peace of our souls, I think we should have a nice centre and the idea would be to have it somewhere quiet.
Mr D. Parsons:
During the last 12 – 15 years, there have been 3 parishes on the Bluff, and they have never been united. Let us have 3 parishes in one.
Mr J. Wilkinson:
1 940 Years ago Jesus founded the church. If St. Peter, and St. Paul had sat still, there would have been no expansion and there must be expansion in the church.
We should expand this parish, but have you got the peoples’ opinion about the best place for the centre. Where did you get your information?
Brighton Beach church was falling down many years ago. One should keep in mind that we must expand. Keep this church here. I helped in passing the plans for this hall. I know the acoustics are bad, but there were plans to extend it and make it bigger.
Which members of the Parish Council objected to the building of the swimming bath before it was built?
Mr J. Busschau:
Our main aim is to have one parish on the Bluff. We cannot have two centres. Over the years people have tended to think of this as 3 parishes but we want one parish on the Bluff. If we want to extend the church, we must do it from one centre so we can all pull together.
The swimming bath: Any objections we made would not have made any difference. They would have adjusted the hours so that they did not trouble us during Mass. We cannot expect others of another faith to adjust their hours of swimming to suit us.
Mr W. McGee:
The land we have available at Wentworth is worth R50 000. Discount Wentworth parish altogether. Of the 42 people who attend Mass there regularly, last Sunday there were only 6 of us. It is obvious to me that with the money available, the obvious place is Brighton Beach. Let us get away from 3 parishes. One parish, and everyone working for it. I believe the Planned Giving is going well. Expand on the Brighton Beach side, or on the Fynnland side, but the site must be where the church is going to be built.
Mr W. Jeffryes:
If we abandon Fynnland, I see no benefit in tearing down any buildings that already exist. The year 2000 is a long way away. The population at the present time I feel is lying round Brighton beach and Wentworth. The present population is going to increase by 60% by the year 2000. For 15 years we can carry on as one, but by then it could be necessary to have 2 or 3 churches to cater for the population. The population of the Bluff is as large as Pietermaritzburg. We have a property here at Fynnland. We need a centre whether it be here or there would be not to sell our assets altogether. To sell this property would be making a great mistake. It could possibly be hired out to some other use, but to keep it. Looking forward to the future and getting rid of our assets would be wrong. We would later have to pay out large sums of money for ground.
Mr J. Busschau:
The Council have gone into this matter fairly deeply. We must be purely mercenary at this stage. How much money can we afford to maintain these buildings? Are we going to get enough for the possible hiring of this place to maintain them. In planning a new church, we are planning for the year 2000. Should the parish increase by 60%, the centre we have should be big enough to cater for it. Vocations these days are not increasing as they should, and if by the year 2000, we had only 1 or 2 priests, they could not handle 2 churches on the Bluff. We must help the few priests available by cutting down the number of parishes where we can.
Mr J. Connellan:
Am I right in my saying that the land that Fynnland church stands on was donated to this parish by Sister Brendan. Will there not be conditions attached which will prevent us disposing of it.
Sister Brendan donated R10 000 for the building of Fynnland Church, but no conditions were attached, regarding buildings having to remain in the Church. It was an absolute donation.
Mr W. Jeffryes:
What about the suitability of the site at Brighton Beach. I know every inch of land we own. Is the land entirely suitable for all we want? In my opinion three quarters is completely unsuitable. By building there you will be cutting the plans for your parking. For big gatherings, parking would be terribly cramped.
Mr J. Busschau:
This point has been considered. Ground is not available. We must make it as best we can with what we have. We feel it is suitable, and quite a lot could be done at Brighton Beach.
Mr D. Parsons:
If suitability of land is what you are looking for, we have 2 ¼ acres at Wentworth, how would you get children to church.
Mr M. King:
There are other churches on the Bluff, which have more than one church. I am in favour of a single centre but also keeping of the Fynnland church to provide for catechetics. I do not condemn the idea of keeping one other Catholic property.
Mr I. Askew:
We cannot afford to keep Fynnland. Brighton Beach is ready to fall down and money must be put out to fix it.
Mr G. Walters:
I feel that the Parish Council should send out a questionnaire with the newsletter to all families on the Bluff. A lot of people did not attend the meeting tonight, as they said a decision had been made already, and there was no use attending the meeting.
Mr J. Busschau:
This was discussed but felt that it would not be successful. It would just mean further delay, as many people would not bother to return the questionnaire.
Mr G. Walters:
Everyone should have a chance to vote, whether they are here or not.
Mr J. Wilkinson:
A questionnaire should be prepared and sent out to every home on the Bluff.
Mr W. McGee:
A letter from the Parish Priest was sent out to me asking me to attend the meeting tonight in order to reach a firm decision, and that is the reason I am here tonight.
Mr E. Lopes:
Could we hear more about what the proposed centre would cost us.
Mr J. Busschau:
This question cannot truthfully be answered; as this would depend on the shape and size of the centre we would intend building. All we can say at this stage is, that we will do our best to use what money we have available and get the best value for money. Building costs change so quickly that no definite sum can be given at this stage.
Fr P. Evers:
We have invested R26 000. Land at Wentworth may raise R50 000. Fynnland could be sold for R40 000. This gives us R91 000. We could probably build for R120 000 to R140 000.
Mr I. Askew:
Regarding the question of the value of the land, at Wentworth, we were told that we would not have to forfeit 50%.
The Diocesan Development of Churches controls the money for the sale of land.
Mr I. Askew:
Wouldn’t it be a generous gesture on the part of the Diocese to let us have that 50%.
Mrs P. Campbell:
Let us hope we make a final decision tonight and that we are not sitting again in 2 years time to make another decision.
Mr J. Busschau:
I suggest we put it to the vote.
Mr M. Fraser:
I suggest buying another piece of land then everyone can be happy.
Mr J. Busschau:
To date there is no alternative ground. We must make a decision tonight.
Mr D. Parsons:
I suggest we take a vote for the centre at Brighton Beach.
Mr A. Laret:
The decision we have to make now is one parish and one centre. It is not so easy to make a decision on the locality of a single centre. The Parish Council should not be allowed to make a decision about the site.
Mr J. Busschau:
The Parish Council has for a number of years now discussed one centre. Nothing concrete has been done. One parish centre here at Fynnland or at Brighton Beach, or at Wentworth. A decision should be made tonight as to the locality and must be executed immediately.
In 5 or 10 years time we may not have the same Parish Council and we may not be in a position to do anything further, and we shall still be in the same position as we are not.
Mr W. McGee:
I received a letter from the Parish Priest not the Parish Council asking me to come here tonight; therefore this is what we must do.
Father P. Evers:
There will come a time when the parish will be in trouble. Nobody will be able to correct this problem. There are many blocks of flats in town today, which are coming up, but these may remain empty for 5 years. The cost of building in 5 years time will be so high that they will not be able to build. This is the time to build because we have a little money now. If we repair now, later on we probably would have no money to do any development.
Mr D. Parsons:
I propose we vote for one centre at Brighton Beach. This proposal was seconded by Mr McGee.
Mrs W. McGee:
We have lived here on the Bluff for many years and I feel we should build one centre on the Brighton Beach side so that we can see it and look up to it on the hill.
Mr W. Jeffryes:
I go along with having one parish, but I still must question the feasibility of having it at Brighton Beach. Have you had anyone into discuss the feasibility of having it at Brighton Beach? Have you had any plans drawn? Will Brighton Beach be big enough to accommodate one centre? What would be the cost? Do you know what the cost of hiring a bulldozer would be? I do not agree that the suitability is there. We must not rush into a decision. We should leave it to people who know what they are doing.
Mr J. Busschau:
Choosing Brighton Beach site is making the best of what we have got. Any architect worth his salt could design a building on any piece of ground. We are against the idea of having another sub-committee. We have had enough procrastination. It has been proposed and seconded to be put to the vote.
Any counter proposals should be made now.
Mr B. Ives:
Have we lost faith in God? Won’t he prevail if we pray?
Mr M. O’Donoghue:
Have we forgotten the sisters on the Brighton Beach side of the Bluff. They give us a lot of assistance with our children.
Mr D. Parsons:
We must first make a decision and then take it from there.
Mr J. Busschau:
I see there are no counter proposals.
The vote you are now going to take part in is for or against having one centre at Brighton Beach.
The vote was taken and was unanimously for one sing centre at Brighton Beach.
On behalf of the Parish Council and Fr Evers, I would like to thank you all for coming here tonight and making this decision. I only hope that the Parish Council are big enough to carry out the proposal and decision that has been made. The first step has been taken. No problems can be seen in carrying out the decision.
On the 22nd September, a concert evening over at Wentworth has been arranged at a charge or R1 per family unit. We look forward to seeing you all there, again.
The meeting closed at 9 15 with a prayer by the Archbishop.
Tea and biscuits were served afterwards.