KwaZulu Natal Tourist AttractionsDenis Hurley Centre
Where? Corner of Denis Hurley and Cathedral streets, Durban Central, Durban
The Denis Hurley Centre opened in central Durban, alongside the Roman Catholic Emmanuel Cathedral, in November 2015.
Named after the bishop, Denis Hurley, who performed a pivotal role in the fight against apartheid, the centre offers food, showers, medical help and education to Durban's inner city homeless.
Denis Hurley was Archbishop of Durban for nigh on 50 years. He was born in Cape Town, spending his early years on Robben Island (his father was the lighthouse keeper). He was to draft a series of pastoral letters, as chairman of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, which condemned apartheid; calling it 'blasphemy' and 'intrinsically evil'.
He was also outspoken on issues like birth control, married priests and the ordination of women, which is believed to have had something to do with the fact that he never made cardinal.
His membership of The Second Vatican Council had a marked effect upon him. It was a place of lively debates, discussions and informal lectures in what is described as a 'positive atmosphere'. The council seemed to give Hurley the impetus he needed to oppose apartheid. He exposed the government's 'separate development' – the idea that black people were citizens of homelands and that there were no black people in South Africa – for the fallacy it was.
Built right in the middle of what is considered a challenging neighbourhood in downtown Durban, the Denis Hurley Centre focuses on providing care for refugees, a clinic, a nutritious food programme, religious education and job-related training.
There are various rooms for hire in the Denis Hurley Centre – The Gandhi-Luthuli Peace Hall which holds 320 people (cinema style) or 170 people (banquet style), a computer room, a multi-faith prayer room and six small breakaway rooms. The hall was most recently used for the Durban Film Festival.