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100-year-old Clayfield parish St Agatha’s established as ‘a sign of hope’ at war’s end

Clayfield full church

Joyous occasion: St Agatha’s Church community packed out its church to celebrate 100 years since the parish was established. Photo: Emilie Ng

CATHOLICS in Clayfield received a history lesson on the “ordinary” turn of events that led to the establishment of their parish 100 years ago.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge explained in his homily for the parish’s centenary Mass on August 12 that St Agatha’s Church, Clayfield, was built at the end of the First World War, a war he said “no one saw coming”.

“The war had finished in a kind of exhaustion that proved nothing and really sowed the seeds of the second part of the apocalypse that we know as World War II,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

Amid the tragedy, Brisbane’s newly installed archbishop, Archbishop James Duhig, was on a building streak, laying the foundations for numerous schools and churches, including St Agatha’s.

“The surge of building and opening that went on was, I think, a way of stating hope in the future at a time when that had to be done,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

“And hence our schools were built and our churches as well, all a way of saying there is a genuine hope and the ground of that hope and the seed of these buildings is Jesus Christ risen from the horrors as a life that no death can destroy.”

The hope established in Clayfield, which in the early 1900s was known as “the clay fields” for its abundance of fine clay for local brickwork, was named St Agatha’s after a church connected to the Irish College in Rome.

Archbishop Duhig and his predecessors Archbishop Robert Dunne and Archbishop James Quinn had all attended the Irish College.

In 1925 the present brick church was built and blessed, retaining the name of St Agatha’s.

Archbishop Coleridge said it was the ordinary people, not the clergy, bishops and priests or even the religious sisters, which told the full centenary story.

“God knows the clergy and religious are ordinary, but it’s the mob that really tells the story of these one-hundred years,” he said.

Click on any photo from the centenary Mass to view the full gallery (photos by Emilie Ng):

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