By Emilie Ng
CHURCHES may not be typical heirlooms among families, but four Booval Catholic ancestors thought a beautiful church was the perfect gift for the next generations.
Between 1912 and 1915, four Catholic families – the Hartfiels, Quinns, Leblers and Costellos – mortgaged their own homes to secure the building of a new Catholic church in Booval.
Their sacrifices paid off when Brisbane Archbishop James Duhig blessed and opened Sacred Heart Church in 1915.
Next week, the parish will celebrate its centenary and honour the four families who put their faith before their own living needs.
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge will celebrate the centenary Mass on June 14 after dining with an expected crowd of 250 guests.
Janice Besgrove, one of the granddaughters of the Hartfiels, is proud of her grandparents’ decision to leave the community a church 100 years ago.
“I know my grandfather bought 30 pounds of timber to build the house, and back then, 30 pounds would have been a lot of money,” Mrs Besgrove said.
The Hartfiels’ history in the Church began when Mrs Besgrove’s grandfather, a Lutheran, married a Catholic girl and then converted.
They watched 12 grandchildren, including youngest child Mrs Besgrove, fill the pews of Sacred Heart Church, praying the Rosary before weekday Masses each morning except Mondays.
Like Mrs Besgrove, many other parishioners have been at Sacred Heart Booval all her life.
Fellow parishioner Clare Patch, whose parents are buried at the church, has lived in the parish for 88 years.
“I’ve been here my entire life,” Mrs Patch said.
When Mrs Patch got married at Sacred Heart, Francis Klein, a parish sacristan, was a teenage altar server.
Mr Klein, 78, known for riding a bicycle to Mass every week, is the man many parishioners turn to if they want to know something about the history of the parish.
They say that without “Francis from Booval”, the parish would lose much of its history.
“Whatever has happened in the church, Francis is the one who knows about it,” Mrs Patch said.
Mr Klein remembers walking home from a Midnight Mass during the Second World War and seeing searchlights from the neighbouring Amberley airforce base.
“They were looking for the enemy bombers,” he said.
Mr Klein, who has been serving at the altar for more than 60 years, said he would most likely be “tucked away” on the sanctuary for the centenary Mass.
The newest Sacred Heart family member is also the seventh parish priest in Booval’s 100 years, Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament Father Jojimon Thomas.
Fr Thomas moved to Booval in January and is the community’s first Indian parish priest, marking a new multicultural phase of the parish’s history.
The parish recently celebrated a Mass with its first Indian priest, a Samoan choir and an African girl altar server.
Fr Thomas said he felt welcomed into the parish from the start.
“It’s a wonderful parish,” he said.
“Even though I have a different accent, I think now (the parish) are in tune with it.”
The parishioners said they were waiting for Fr Thomas to greet them at Mass with the iconic Australian phrase, “How are ya, mate?”