Wellington's most stunningly-sited building, on the hill at the city-end of Oriental Bay, is S. Gerard's Monastery. It is not (and has never been) a monastery in fact — the word indicates a secluded community, separate from society. But it acquired the name early on. And it stuck
The church was built in 1908 for the Redemptorists — a Roman Catholic missionary congregation formed in Italy in the 18th Century. They have always worked within the community, never as a secluded congregation.
The Redemptorists built the church in 1908 on the site of comptroller-general James FitzGerald's house. During an Open Day at the monastery we were told that the church was the first in the world to be dedicated to the Italian saint Gerard Majella (patron saint of pregnant women).
In 1932 the monastery (architect: Frederick de Jersey Clere) was built as the Redemptorists' home. It echoed the style of the church whose architect was John Sydney Swan. Mass is held each Sunday morning in S. Gerard's Church. By1988, increasing rates and declining numbers forced them to sell the property. It was bought by the South Pacific centre for the International Catholic Programme of Evangelisation. The monastery is used as a retreat and training centre — the first mission centre to be established by ICPE. At the regular Open Days, a tour of the building plus an account of its interesting history is offered. There's homemade food on sale and sometimes entertainment. The future is challenging for this iconic old building. For, at present, the church and monastery are only up to about 27% of new earthquake standards. According to maintenance and restoration trust chairman, Gordon Copeland, it would cost up to $10million to bring it up to 67% of those standards.
JCD, Bay View newsletter 64, November 2014