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Former Gold Coast mayor backs ‘Buy a Brick’ project

Strong support: Parish pastoral council chair Paul Fitzgerald, Parish priest Fr Tim Harris, former Gold Coast mayor Gary Baildon get ready for the development of a new church at Surfers Paradise.

Strong support: Parish pastoral council chair Paul Fitzgerald, Parish priest Fr Tim Harris, former Gold Coast mayor Gary Baildon get ready for the development of a new church at Surfers Paradise.

By Emilie Ng

FORMER Gold Coast Mayor Gary Baildon is in full support of Surfers Paradise parish’s fundraising campaign, “Buy a Brick”, to build a new church at Broadbeach.

Mr Baildon was announced in the parish as the patron for the campaign last weekend.

He has been a parishioner at St Vincent’s Church, Surfers Paradise, for more than 50 years, and remembered the parish’s first priest Fr Neil Shannon who was the first to introduce the “Buy a Brick” campaign.

Passionate about advancing the building of the new Stella Maris Church at Broadbeach, Mr Baildon was enthusiastic about being the patron for the “Buy a Brick” campaign.

About 270 people have donated to the campaign, and the parish has sold an estimated $170,000 worth of bricks.

Mr Baildon said the existing Stella Maris Church needed to become a more appropriate place of worship.

“The existing church is falling apart,” Mr Baildon said. “We need to provide an opportunity for people to come and worship and it needs to be in a place where it’s not difficult to go to Mass.”

The now semi-retired Catholic, who is also chairman of the Gold Coast Waterways Authority and the Gold Coast Hospital Foundation, said his experience of Surfers Paradise parish had “always been very, very pleasant”.

He also said the Catholic Church needed to represent itself “wherever we can” and hoped the new Stella Maris Church would have a significant role in bringing unity among Christian denominations on the Gold Coast.

“During my term in local government, I mixed with all churches on the Gold Coast, which only demonstrated to me how close Christian churches are,” he said. “It is important that Christian churches interact with one another, because our common ground is greater than the areas where we disagree.”

In preparation for construction of the new church, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge will celebrate Mass for parishioners and the wider Gold Coast community to say farewell to the Stella Maris Church building.

The night Mass on April 24 will include a formal ritual to farewell the old church.

Under Canon Law, a church, which once consecrated gives the sacred building an “indelible mark where it may never be transferred to common or profane uses” – loses its consecration once demolished.

Parish priest Fr Tim Harris welcomed Catholics and non-Catholics in the greater Gold Coast community to attend the Mass.

“The Mass will give our worshippers a chance to thank God for the experiences they’ve had in the church,” Fr Harris said. “We look forward in hope for the new church.”

The new Stella Maris Church will be built on the existing church grounds at Broadbeach.

Demolition will begin in mid-May, and construction is planned to begin Christmas this year with hope to open the church to the parish towards the end of May or beginning of June.

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