The Centralisation of St Francis Xavier Parish and Building
The running of two mass centres was becoming a financial drain on the parish resources. The Parish Church at Brighton Beach was in dire need of repair and the church and hall at Fynnlands was requiring continual maintenance. On the 19 July 1973 Father Evers O.M.I.,who was parish priest, wrote an open letter to the parishioners asking the question as to whether the parish could afford to maintain three properties (plans were in progress to build a third church at Wentworth),or was it now not time to establish one parish centre on the Bluff. Most parishioners now had their own transport. With the letter he called a meeting of the parish for Monday 20th August 1973. Archbishop Denis Hurley O.M.I. also attended the meeting.
Judging from the minutes it was a marathon meeting with many parishioners giving their views and opinions. Should Fynnlands be closed and sold, and a single parish centre built at Brighton Beach, or should they sell Brighton Beach and keep Fynnland? What about Wentworth? There was more than enough land to build a single parish centre there. The people living in the Fynnland Area were for the centre being at Fynnland and those living a Brighton Beach wanted the centre at Brighton Beach and those who lived in the Wentworth wanted it in Wentworth. How was this impasse to be tackled?
The practicalities of having the centre at one of the three particular locations, as well as the possible development of the Bluff were looked at. The idea was to try and see what the development of the Bluff would look like by the year 2000. The Fynnland area was already developed and population would no doubt move further along the Bluff Ridge. There was already a large population at Brighton Beach and Wentworth. A Mr W Jeffryes stated, “that the Bluff population could increase by as much as 60% by the year 2000. The population was already the size of Pietermaritzburg”.
It was felt that the centre of the Bluff would move towards Brighton Beach.
The proposal to build one parish centre at Brighton Beach was eventually supported and the decision made to go ahead.
Plans were drawn and submitted to the Archbishop as was required.
Permission was granted and the task of building a new church was given to John Judge Builders.
The property at Wentworth was sold.
The buildings at Brighton Beach were demolished.
The plan of using the Fynnland church until the new church was built was somewhat short lived in that the parish received a good offer for the Fynnland Church, and it was decided to accept it. This left the parish with no venue for masses or catechism.
Permission was sought and granted by the Dominican Sisters to use the Convent of Our Lady Of Natal school hall for Sunday Mass and the school classrooms for catechism.
Father Andy Slowey O.M.I. who had taken over from Father Evers, took up residence in one of the School’s Classrooms. This was to be the arrangement until the new Church was built.
On the 19th May 1977 the new parish church was opened.
In the same year the parish purchased number 2 Sormany Road to be used as a Presbytery and a parish office.
On the 6th December 1981, 101 years after the official opening of the St. Francis Xavier Mission, the new modern church was dedicated by Archbishop Denis Hurley O.M.I.
Message from Cardinal Napier | Message from Fr Stuart Bate OMI | Forward: Professor Joy Brain | Introduction | A history of the St Francis Mission | Establishment of the Church at Fynnland | The Church at Wentworth | Centralisation of St Francis Xavier and Building of the New Church | The Building of the Parish Hall | The Building of the New Presbytery | The Building of the Wall of Remembrance | The Architectural meaning of the New Church | Your Church in Rhyme by Fr Andy Slowey | The Human Contribution to the Growth of the Parish | Groups and Organisations that have contributed to the Parish | Current Groups within the Parish | Local Vocations | Awards and Recognition | An Armchair tour of the Parish | The Shrine to Our Lady of Natal | Landholdings of the Catholic Church on the Bluff | A Portrait of the Life and Times of St Francis Xavier | Picture Gallery | Timeline of incidents of the Bluff Parish