Queenstown, Arrowtown, Garston and Glenorchy are served by one Priest, currently: Father Cipriano Fernandes who is stationed in Queenstown itself. Queenstown came into being through farming, Arrowtown through gold and Garston also through farming. Queenstown is situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. The Maori translation is – The Breath of the Sleeping Giant.While we are small in actual numbers, our Churches are haven for countless visitors who come for various reasons.

SUMMARY

St Joseph’s Church (Catholic) (1898) is part of a cluster of buildings associated with the Catholic Church situated at the western end of Melbourne Street, Queenstown. Occupying a prominent elevated position above the centre of Queenstown and the Wakatipu lakefront, the church and its distinctive statue of St Joseph have landmark presence in the town.

A Catholic church was first built in Queenstown in 1863 on Church Street. The division of the Queenstown Parish from Invercargill in 1873 required a dedicated presbytery for the church and this was built in 1877. The presbytery was converted to a convent in 1882 to accommodate Dominican nuns brought to Queenstown to teach at the newly opened St Joseph’s School. In 1883 the land on Church Street was sold and Catholic church activities centred on the convent and school.

It was not until 1898 that a new permanent Catholic church was erected in Queenstown. St Joseph’s Church was built from local Arthurs Point schist and rimu sourced and transported largely by members of the congregation. Parishioners also donated many chattels and features of the church. The generosity of the Queenstown Catholic community in the donation of materials and labour for the construction of the church ensured that it was built quickly and opened free of debt.

St Joseph’s Church (Catholic) is as a modest church in the Gothic Revival style of church architecture. Many key characteristics of this form of building are evident at St Joseph’s Church, such as vertical emphasis created through steep pitched gables and lancet windows. The church is significant as an example of the work of Francis William Petre (1847-1918), the architect of many ecclesiastical buildings for the Roman Catholic Church in both Classical and Gothic Revival styles.

Despite considerable changes to Queenstown’s industry and population over the past century – as tourism has replaced mining and agriculture as the dominant industry – St Joseph’s Church retains a loyal local parish.

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