Centre still Catholic

2019-03-19 06:00
The Catholic Welfare and Development Centre in Lawrence Road, Athlone.PHOTO: Earl Haupt

The Catholic Welfare and Development Centre in Lawrence Road, Athlone.PHOTO: Earl Haupt

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Activities at the Catholic Welfare and Development Centre in Lawrence Road are expected to continue to run as usual after the Archbishop of Cape Town Stephen Brislin allayed fears following developments at the premises in recent months.

“We are so overjoyed at the clarification by the respected Archbishop Brislin that the Athlone premises will not be sold,” says Shaheed Mahomed from the Save the Athlone Cultural Hub campaign.

The group was formed by the organisations who use the Athlone Cultural Hub, which is run by the Catholic Church’s Welfare and Development arm (CWD).

Mahomed tutors maths at the premises, but that was thrown under a cloud of doubt after it emerged that the archdiocese obtained an interdict against Andre Marais, who ran activities at the cultural hub. As a result, Marais was unable to gain access to the premises, remaining locked.

However, Archbishop Breslin released an official statement last week confirming the news. However, he pointed out that the initial rumours circulating the sale of the property were part of a “media campaign which is aimed at pressuring CWD and the Archdiocese of Cape Town to retain its use as a so-called cultural hub.”

Archbishop Breslin went onto state that the CWD owns the property, but has had to cease activities due to the accumulated debt by CWD’s previous board and management.

He adds the Archdiocese stepped in to ensure staff was paid a retrenchment package, but that in order to help CWD pay off its debts, some property will have to be sold, with other CWD-owned properties to be transferred to the Archdiocese of Cape Town.

The building has been owned by the Catholic church for more than 70 years and Breslin would like to see it being used for the welfare of the church.

“I am distressed that a needless campaign has been waged against CWD at a very difficult time and hope that the Catholic community can use its buildings in peace, for the welfare and development work that is still so sorely needed in this Archdiocese,” Breslin adds.

Meanwhile, Mahomed says they are still hoping for a mediation process where common ground can be found.

“We sent a letter requesting mediation and it was kindly acknowledged by the secretary of the archbishop himself, who indicated they would respond in due course. We want to emphasise that at no stage did we ever question the integrity of the archbishop, especially as he has a long tie with the community of Athlone as indeed does the Catholic church. He is also a known Palestine supporter.

We are concerned, the misunderstanding led to most of the Hub activities being stopped. Hopefully this can be rectified.”

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