Thirteen years after being damaged beyond repair by an earthquake, the St John’s RC Church in Portsmouth has been reopened. The church was demolished by a 2004 earthquake that shook the north of the island.
Speaking to The Chronicle weeks before the reopening, parish priest Fr Herman Sharplis said the church had some minor finishing touches but was basically fully equipped.
“We are certainly at an advanced stage and advanced in every sense of the word. All the toilets are finished, all the furniture is in, the sanctuary’s done and right now we are just finalising plans to have the blessing of the church…” he stated. He added that the ceiling is still missing, contributing to heat within the building, but high-powered fans are being sought to address that.
Fr Sharplis reiterated that the process was far from easy, fundraising being a major challenge. Thanks to the Roman Catholic Church Rebuilding Initiative of New York, and a twinning programme with the parish of St Boniface and St Mary in Ohio, the Portsmouth parish was able to acquire much-needed funding and materials to complete church building.
“We were fortunate,” Fr Sharplis said. “It took us sleepless nights trying to figure out what we could do and everything that we did God just blessed it and today Portsmouth has a church. The process has been a very hard daunting process. We started in 2011, and indeed it is a tremendous success and achievement to have the church opened.”