The preservation of Australia’s heritage Catholic churches will be the focus of a National Church Architecture Symposium in Melbourne next month.

The event, called Where Your Treasure Is, Your Heart Will Be Also, will be held at the Australian Catholic University (ACU)’s St Patrick’s campus from February 6 to 8.

“We have many old churches, many of which are important historically and some of which are protected with heritage listing,” says Harry Stephens, secretary of the NLAAC, an advisory body to the Bishops Commission for Liturgy of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

“The symposium is a completely unique event – there’s never been anything quite like this in Australia before.”

Two major events will occur at the symposium: the release of a new set of guidelines for heritage churches and the launch of Cultura – a digital catalogue of Church-owned items including buildings, sacred vessels, vestments, sacred books, pieces of furniture and altars.

Keynote addresses will be presented by British architecture historian, author and heritage expert, Sophie Andreae and leading American liturgical design consultant Richard S. Vosko. Andreae has looked after the heritage of the Catholic Church in England and Wales for many years, while Vosko has completed hundreds of Church projects in the United States, earning him honorary membership of the American Institute of Architects.

The following topics will be explored by a range of local presenters:

  • Archaeology as an aid to understanding heritage significance of churches
  • Refurbishing school chapels
  • The commissioning of religious art for churches
  • The re-ordering of re-ordered churches
  • The place and nature of the confessional space in our churches
  • The location and heritage issues relating to the organ and music ministry

During the symposium, attendees will also have an opportunity to examine current and recent church projects alongside new churches and chapels, with experts in liturgical architecture, art and heritage.

“This symposium is for all those who care about the places of Catholic worship, including clergy, parishioners, architects, artists, teachers, liturgists, designers, theology and architecture students, academics and anyone with an interest in architecture, art, artefacts and heritage,” adds Stephens.