Yass man allowed to join fight for church
St Patrick's Church in Braddon. Photo: Graham Tidy
A man from Yass has won the legal right to fight against the redevelopment of a church in central Canberra, partly on the basis of his spiritual attachment to the building.
With opposition intensifying to the planned demolition of St Patrick's in Braddon, regular church-goer Dallas Hosking has been given the go-ahead to join the legal challenge to the project, despite living nearly 60 kilometres away across the NSW border.
Mr Hosking is one of three St Patrick's congregation members who have joined a case in the territory's ACAT tribunal, aimed at securing St Patrick's status as a heritage listing building, which would all but guarantee its survival.
The church authorities have gone to the tribunal to appeal the decision of the Heritage Council to list St Patrick's on the register of historically important buildings.
The listing puts a serious obstacle in the path of plans by the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn to demolish the 80-year-old building, which would clear the way for a commercial redevelopment of the precinct with the profits pumped into a revamp of St Christopher's cathedral in Manuka.
In a decision last month, tribunal member Peta Spender has ruled that Mr Hosking and two other regular St Patrick's worshippers - Vincent Kane and William Meani - could join the Heritage Council as parties to the case.
Mr Meani wanted to be added in his personal capacity and in a representative capacity as the chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council for the past 12 years, while Mr Kane has been a parishioner at St Patrick s Church for over 51 years, and has acted as an assistant and handyman at the church over the years.
Despite barristers for the Archdiocese trying to have the cases of the three men dismissed, Professor Spender found their connections to the church and its congregation gave them the right to join the fight to save St Patrick's.
Mr Hosking and his wife regularly drive 60 kilometres to join their fellow members of the Deutsche Bonifatius Gemeinde, a German language Catholic group, in worshiping at St Patrick's.
The Archdiocese has proposed a church as part of the redevelopment but parishioners are unhappy that the new religious site would not provide ceremonies and services currently provided at St Patrick's, such as weddings and funerals.
Professor Spender took into account the men's spiritual connection with the church while granting them the right to be joined as parties to the action, but it was their status as occupants of the building that tipped the decision in their favour.
But a simultaneous application by the Parish Pastoral Council, represented by Mr Meani, to join the legal stoush on the side of the Heritage Council was refused by the Tribunal.