Emmanuel Cathedral

The Emmanuel Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Durban. It belongs to all of us, priests, religious brothers and sisters, the laity of the Archdiocese of Durban, present and past. We give thanks to God for it and we are always happy to gather in this magnificent Church as the Church of Durban for all significant celebrations e.g. ordinations, Chrism Masses, and other important celebrations and events that manifest the unity and life of the People of God in this part of the Church in Southern Africa.

The foundation stone of this magnificent Church was laid on the 1st of January 1902 by Bishop Charles Jolivet OMI and the church was completed by Christmas 1903. The Emmanuel Cathedral was officially dedicated on the 12th November 1904 under the leadership of Bishop Henri Delalle OMI, who succeeded Bishop Jolivet (who is buried at the head of the centre aisle, just outside the sanctuary, in September 1903). Bishop Delalle was succeeded by Archbishop Denis Hurley OMI, then Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM who has recently been succeeded by Archbishop Siegfried Jwara CMM.

Our Cathedral is almost 120 years old. Over the years some major renovations have been done inside and outside the building. In the past such renovations were done once in a while; but of late it is becoming more and more necessary to have regular renovations, fixing and maintenance because of the age of the building but also because uninvited guests (thieves) have  frequented the place and damaged some of its important parts.

For example, last year we realized that most of the asbestos gutters were breaking and falling away and this causes uncontrollable damage to the walls especially during days of heavy and unusual rains. A few weeks ago, we also discovered that some important copper sheets that seal the roof valleys have been stolen. We wondered how, but we have realized that some water downpipes along Cathedral Road are loose which means that these ‘experienced thieves’ use them to climb to the roof and steal the copper. Most of the tiles have been removed and/or broken in order to access the copper sealing. With the current rains we have witnessed serious leaks inside the church and in the presbytery and these are causing very dangerous wetness on walls which weakens the firmness of the building. Once the roof is gone, we may as well be certain that the walls will follow!

For the stolen copper sheets, we may approach the insurance company, but for the normal maintenance and revamp which is due; this we have to do from our own resources… which we do not have.

Recently the Bell Tower was renovated and the 1904 Pipe Organ is under serious renovations (but it is now playing beautifully), thanks to the insurance for covering some of the costs but more is still needed. The three new tombs for the Archbishops are being built because we have none vacant and, of course, we must have one or two vacant at all times. But the urgent issue now is the roof of the Cathedral and the Presbytery. 

The Cathedral Committee under the guidance of the current Administrator (Fr Sabelo Mkhize), has established a Fundraising Project in order to have immediate repairs done but also to keep this fundraiser for the ongoing maintenance of the Cathedral. With the help and permission of the Archbishop and the Archdiocese, we have opened a special account to help meet these urgent needs of our Cathedral. We are hoping to gather 400 willing people (daughters and sons of the Archdiocese of Durban, friends of Emmanuel Cathedral and willing donors) to donate R2500.00 per year into this fund for the repairs and maintenance of the Cathedral. 400 X R2500.00 means 1million rand a year. We are praying that more than 400 people will respond to this plea and some may even be willing to offer more than R2500.00 per year. Please note that this sum may be paid in one amount but may also be paid off slowly provided that the Donor makes sure that within a year the total of R2500 has been paid.

Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends of Emmanuel Cathedral, should you wish to participate in the project (for the Renovation and Maintenance of our Cathedral), here are the following procedures:

Kindly respond to this invitation and request by sending an email to the Administrator of the Cathedral: Fr Sabelo Mkhize, administrator@emmanuelcathedral.org.za or finance@emmanuelcathedral.org.za. In that email please provide your name, email address and contact number. We are creating a list of people willing to contribute and we have started with our staff and committees here at the Cathedral and the Administrator is number one on the list! Your contact details will ensure that you get all necessary updates, for example, how far the fundraising project is going and what work is being done and details of how the funds are being administered and used.

Monthly Statements of the account will be sent to all Donors. Costs of necessary renovations and repairs (expenditure) will also be communicated to all Donors.

Please join the project. Without us working together, our beautiful Cathedral and Presbytery will collapse. Please also invite any people you know who would welcome the idea of becoming donors for the upkeep of the Emmanuel Cathedral. This church is OURS – Emmanuel Cathedral EYETHU! We invite all Cathedral parishioners, people who were baptized or got married in the Cathedral, families that belonged to the Cathedral even long time ago. This is the time to rebuild our beautiful Cathedral.

Finally, I would like to thank the former administrators of the Cathedral. It is not easy to keep this place up to standard. A lot of energy and preparedness to be tried are some of the requirements for the administrator! The face of the Cathedral community has changed. There are more less-advantaged people and one cannot expect them to fund every maintenance project, as willing as many are, thank God, but a more combined effort will make a huge difference. The Cathedral belongs to everyone and to every Parish of the Archdiocese of Durban. Please extend this invitation to parishioners in all parishes of our Archdiocese and people and friends you know who will support the project. Next year we are hoping to have few fundraising events as well, praying Covid-19 will subside and give us a chance to rebuild this house of God. With your help, this will be possible.

Sincerely yours in Christ and our Patroness, Immaculate Mary,

Fr Sabelo Mkhize


Emmanuel Cathedral, Durban

Email: administrator@emmanuelcathedral.org.za

Landline: +27 31 306 3695

Once you receive a response from the Administrator acknowledging receipt of your offer or willingness to participate in the project, please deposit the money into this account:

Name: Archdiocese of Durban – Our Cathedral Eyethu

Bank: Nedbank

Account Number: 9022431209

Type: Savings

Branch Code: 198765