History of Ss Peter and Paul

Ss Peter and Paul Church

History of Our Church

Ss Peter & Paul church was founded in June 1850 as a Mission in the then new Diocese of Wellington.  The site was in the present day High Street and occupied an area of over two acres (approximately 1 hectare) bordered by the Hutt River and extending approximately 100m along High Street south from the present Andrews Avenue. 

The Mission territory extended beyond the Valley to include the Wairarapa and to the west from the northern part of what is now part of Wellington up to Paekakariki and beyond.  French missionary bishops and priests were the pioneers of the Catholic Faith in New Zealand and it was one of these, Father Jean Forest who headed the Hutt Mission.  Father Forest built a church and an adjoining house and in 1853 he also built and commenced the first Catholic school in the Hutt likewise on the same site.  It continues today as Ss Peter & Paul School.

French priests continued to administer the Hutt Mission until 1883 being succeeded by Irish, English and later New Zealand born priests.  Over the years various parts of the original Mission became separate parishes in their own right until ultimately the parish achieved its present size extending from Alicetown in the south to Naenae and Avalon in the North and including the Western Hills. 

In 1927 the present Knights Road property, then farmland, was purchased. To cope with increasing numbers the school was relocated in a new two storey school building on this land in 1929.  The building of the presbytery in 1938/39 followed it and finally a new church was built in 1945 replacing the original 1850 church demolished in 1940, after most of the High Street land had been sold to make way for urban expansion. 

The present church was built in the Gothic style with the altar at the end of central and side aisles.  A much enlarged entrance area was added in 1959 featuring the glass panels showing Ss Peter & Paul these being now incorporated into the recent entrance.

In 1986/87 the church was substantially altered to bring it into conformity with the modern layout considered more desirable for services with an altar located in a central position.

In 2001 a further major alteration to the front of the church was carried out providing both an enlarged gathering area and a new Chapel dedicated to St Elizabeth of Hungary.  The Chapel is used for the smaller weekday services and other occasions not requiring the use of the full church and seats approximately 100 people.  It can be opened up by means of folding doors being then used as part of the church. 

The two large stained glass windows on either side of the altar depicting in symbolic form the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church feature the Hutt River flowing through the Valley, with the hills bordering it on the outside edges their varying colours representing the vegetation and the diversity of the shadowing on the hills.  The circular window at the top of the Chapel depicts the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove with three magnolia blooms, these trees being a feature of the gardens in the front of the church.

On the west wall of the Chapel is a quilt made by parishioners featuring various aspects of the Parish history.  On a wall of the Parish hall, now integrated with the structure of the church, is a large tapestry completed by a parish family depicting Christ of the Valley.

Just on 100 priests have served the parish since 1850; it is a busy parish with four services from Saturday evening to Sunday evening as well as weekday services.  The parish choir usually sings at one of the Sunday services.  Many parishioners are involved in special groupings and organisations carrying out a wide variety of spiritual and other ministries in the parish community. 

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