New homes a blessing for priests

Father Vince Walker in front of his new home in Holy Cross village. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Father Vince Walker in front of his new home in Holy Cross village. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Four ‘‘mini-townhouses'' at Holy Cross College in Mosgiel are nearly complete and awaiting the arrival of three semi-retired priests who will make them their homes.

The $800,000 project aimed to provide homes for the increasing numbers of elderly priests in the Otago-Southland diocese.

It was the idea of Emeritus Bishop of Dunedin, the Most Rev Len Boyle and the diocese had supported the concept, helping raise funds for the project.

Diocese general manager Stuart Young said there was a shortage of suitable living accommodation for its retirement-aged priests.

They often ended up in cold, draughty homes of old presbyteries, were guests of other priests or lived in rented flats.

The new development provided an option where they could live in warm, comfortable surroundings and be part of the Holy Cross and Mosgiel communities.

‘‘It is in recognition of the service they have provided. Most when they move in will have given more than 50 years' service. They will be comfortable and secure but still independent.''

The two-bedroom units were fully insulated, provided open-plan living and garaging.

Originally, six were planned and it was still hoped another two would be built, Mr Young said.

Diocese Vicar-general Fr Vince Walker, Fr Mervyn McGettigan and Fr Tony Ives would move into the units, joining Bishop Boyle, who already lived in an apartment at Holy Cross.

A tenant has not yet been found for the fourth new unit.

Fr Walker (74) said he was absolutely delighted at the prospect of moving into a unit.

‘‘We are coming back to where we began our lives preparing for the priesthood, so we're very happy.''

Bishop Boyle and the Bishop of Dunedin, the Most Rev Colin Campbell, blessed the units in a ceremony at the weekend.

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