A treasure in our midst – Geraldton’s Hawes Heritage Centre wins prestigious award
By Josh Low
Geraldton’s Monsignor Hawes Heritage Centre last month won the prestigious 2017 Heritage Council of WA Award under the ‘Interpretation Project’ category.
Held on Friday 26 May at the WA Ballet Centre (formerly the Royal WA Institute for the Blind) in Maylands, the awards night recognised 16 individuals and heritage projects for heritage excellence.
Diocesan Director of Heritage, Fr Robert Cross, received the award together with Mr Scott Watson of Publik (who designed and installed the interpretive display) from the Minister for Heritage, the Hon David Templeman MLA and Chair of the Heritage Council of Western Australia, Ms Anne Arnold.
Located within the grounds of St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Geraldton, the $3.6 million state-of-the-art interpretation centre was officially opened in September 2016 and captures the life and story of architect, builder and priest Monsignor John Cyril Hawes.
With the use of Mgr Hawes’ own words, taken from his extensive records, diary entries and drawings to tell his story, visitors to the heritage centre are offered an insight into Mgr Hawes’ personal thoughts and memories, with a collection of artefacts also available for viewing.
Born 7 September 1876 in Richmond, England, Mgr Hawes was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome in 1915 and departed for Western Australia toward the end of the year, where he had the most productive architectural period of his life.
Fr Robert Cross said that Mgr Hawes may well be the most significant figure in the ecclesiastical architectural history of Australia, adding that the award for the Heritage Centre was eventful for all involved.
“The award is a wonderful recognition of the blood, sweat and tears of so many Catholic and non-Catholics, who have worked long and hard to give the Hawes story the prominence and recognition it is due.”
He added that the Heritage Centre allows for locals and visitors to immerse themselves in the story of Monsignor Hawes and venture out to the remote places where many of Hawes’ buildings are located.
“They are a treasure in our midst,” Fr Robert said.
“These buildings bring to us an appreciation of the difficulties our forebears endured and the sacrifices they made to provide places of worship, of wonder and awe in our communities, be they large or small.
“They speak to us of faith, of endurance, of suffering, of hope, of healing and redemption,” he said.
Fr Robert said the heritage of Hawes since its inception to construction, and future is first and foremost about evangelisation, and hopes the Heritage Centre can help to inspire people with Hawes’ story.
“My hope is that the Heritage Centre will make the story of Monsignor Hawes more widely known, encourage heritage and spiritual tourism but above all to inspire people to look more deeply into what drove Monsignor Hawes – his love of God and his burning desire and selfless dedication, to serve God’s people and to be an instrument of evangelisation,” he concluded.
A bronze sculpture of Mgr Hawes and his beloved dog Dominie was installed earlier this year to commemorate the duo and currently sits outside the entrance to the Heritage Centre.