Little River Church

Little River Church

St John the Evangelist Little River
(Closed for earthquake repairs)
Mass Times 2014

Monthly Mass every 2nd Saturday of the month at 5pm at The Service Centre opposite the old railway station. Enquries phone 03-304-7083.

Little River Church History

The St Patrick’s Parish Akaroa includes the Little River district. The first Mass in Little River was offered by Father Tracey at Mr Keenan’s home on the coach road in the 1880’s. Mass was offered every three months by a priest from Lyttleton and the people provided $8 for the trip. In 1889, the priests came from Akaroa in the persons of Father Purton, Dean Bowers and Father Dunham. About 1900, the Lincoln priest looked after Little River from about two years until Father Kennedy took over from Akaroa in 1903 and this situation has remained until today.

In the early days Mass was celebrated in the school, later in the Maori Hall and finally in the old Library near the doctor’s home. But in the early 1900’s the people bought an old school and half and acre of land from Mr Allan at a cost of $200. They painted and improved it so that it served the purpose of a Church very well. The Church remained in use until 1925 when the new stone Church was opened. The roads were very poor in the early days and the priest would ride a horse over to Little River on Saturday night, stay the night and offer Mass the next morning. Mass was usually celebrated every second Sunday.

Father Bonetto was the last of the priests to use the horse as a means of transport over the hill. Father Seward used a motor-cycle and Father Gallagher was the first to you a car. It was an Essex and made the journey over the hill less arduous. It was a little hard on tyres however, a new set being necessary every six weeks or so. It was in Father Gallagher’s time that the Church of St John the Evangelist was built. The stone of the Church was from the Halswell quarry and a local man, Mr Renaldi, supplied from his own property the stone for the fence. Most of the furnishings were donated – the marble altar by Mr Tom Quealy, the lights by Mr Watson, the Stations of the Cross by Mr Fahey and the statues by Mr Keenan. The Church stands near the main road and looks most attractive to the passer-by.

Earthquake update: due to earthquake damage the church is currently unable to be used.