CATH NEWS REPORT: The new $5 million All Saints Catholic Church in Shellharbour, south of Sydney, has been targeted in a suspected arson attack, just months before it was due to open, reports the Illawarra Mercury.
Fr Jones said the church would need to seek an interim solution while the damage to All Saints was repaired. He said it appeared arsonists had carried pallets from the building site, combined them with builders' materials already inside the church and set fire to them.The 570-seat building was to become the central church for the 12,000-strong Shellharbour City parish, at its scheduled opening in August. Parish priest Father Bryan Jones will now have to wait until at least March next year to relocate his flock.
"Structurally the building is sound, but there is fairly extensive work to be done to rectify the fire damage and, very particularly, the extensive smoke damage," he said.
"Smoke has penetrated the upper levels of the building, the insulation will have to be replaced and to do that the roof has to come off.
"The electrical wiring that's in place has to be double-checked and certainly a lot of it has to be replaced."
The church ceiling, which was almost complete, will also need to be torn down and replaced.
"It's a lot of disappointment, of course. The extra time involved, one way or another, is going to cost us a bit," he said. Insurance is expected to cover most of the demolition and repair work.
"In the real world I would expect some extra costs, but I wouldn't expect those costs to be great," Fr Jones said.
"You can see the hurt on the faces of the people who have been working there. They truly put themselves into the building."