Father McMenamin memorial, Sacred Heart, Petone

Portrait of Rev McMenamin Latin establishment plaque 1997 establishment plaque

On the outbreak of war, Father J.J. McMenamin, who had been appointed parish priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Petone, in 1912, volunteered to serve as a chaplain. On 9 June 1917 he was killed while conducting a funeral service for fallen soldiers after the Battle of Messines. After the war ended, members of his former parish began raising funds to build a new church in his memory.

Archbishop Redwood opened the large reinforced concrete building on 28 October 1934. The church was dedicated to the Sacred Heart, but was also frequently referred to as the ‘Chaplain McMenamin memorial church’. The building housed a stained-glass window dedicated to the memory of Father McMenamin.

The church was demolished in 1996. The new Sacred Heart church, opened on 23 November 1997, preserved the front entrance to the old church as its gateway. The Father McMenamin memorial stained glass window was also reportedly preserved inside (although it is not identified as such).

In 2014, there were no plaques commemorating Father McMenamin inside or outside the new building. However, the chalice he used on the battlefield has been preserved. A large framed photograph of Father McMenamin is housed in the vestry and brought out during Anzac Day services.

Sources: ‘Memorial Church: Petone Catholic Bazaar’, Evening Post, 25/2/1919, p. 8; ‘Petone Catholic Church’, Evening Post, 24/8/1933, p. 3; ‘New Catholic Church’, Evening Post, 29/10/1934, p. 4; ‘New Catholic Church’, Hutt News, 31/10/1934, p. 5; Lynn Burt and Irene Bignall, Sacred Heart Parish, Petone, 1899-1997, Petone, 1997, pp. 12, 15-19, 32-3; Pam Eising, Reminiscing: Sacred Heart Parish, Petone, Centenary, Petone, 2003; ‘Brave Petone Priest with Links to Belgium’, Petone Chronicle, 5/4/2014, pp. 16-17; ‘Chaplain’s Courage Inspired Many’, NZ Herald, 19/3/2015, A19.

 

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