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Hendra parishioners on a high celebrating 90 years of faith-filled history

Blessed day: Brisbane auxiliary Bishop Ken Howell with Hendra parishioners after the 90th anniversary Mass on June 9 at Our Lady Help of Christians Church. Photo: Nicholas Holt

HENDRA parishioners have always been sitting closer to Heaven than others.

In July 1929, Brisbane archdiocese secured the most elevated portion of land in Hendra – a flat and aluminium-rich farming suburb.

Ninety years later, the parish was still on a high when it celebrated its anniversary Mass on June 9 at Our Lady Help of Christians Church.

“It’s nice to know that the Catholics of Hendra were sitting a little closer to Heaven from the outset,” parishioner Mary Nicholls said during her speech at the 90th anniversary Mass last Sunday.

Brisbane auxiliary Bishop Ken Howell celebrated the Mass and said celebrations like this provided an opportunity for reflection.

“When I come to celebrate with a community a birthday like this – 90 years to the day when the first Mass was celebrated in the fledgling parish of Hendra – I cannot help but wander back in my mind to what that ‘birth’ may have been like,” Bishop Howell said.

“What was in the hearts and minds of those early parishioners, their parish priest …?

“What inspired them to make such decisions and invest themselves in ensuring their efforts came to fruition?”

Our Lady Help of Christians Parish began its origins with the purchase by the Catholic Church of an old rambling residence belonging to the Bowman family on 1.2ha of land that became the temporary church.

In spite of its rich history of clergy, which included the long-serving Monsignor Lynch, Fr Peter Gillam and Fr Jim Spence, Mrs Nicholls said the parish had been blessed in recent times with the addition of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate Father Paul Chackanikunnel.

“At OLHC, Fr Paul has been involved in the enormous tasks of constructing a new presbytery and new parish centre,” Mrs Nicholls said. 

“Just as importantly he has overseen the formation of the Mother of Mercy parish, bringing St Cecilia’s Hamilton together with St John’s Northgate and OLHC Hendra.” 

Mrs Nicholls said Fr Chackanikunnel had been a “devoted builder for Christ”.

“Not only tending to the spiritual needs of three communities in one parish, he has also maintained and updated our properties through re-negotiated rents – he has repainted, re-roofed, re-carpeted and landscaped, and he has given us organs and overheads,” she said.

“We are very blessed to be in Christ’s care at Hendra and we give thanks for being 90 years strong and, secure in the protection of Our Lady Help of Christians both in our parish and as patroness of Australia, we look forward to the joyful celebration of our centenary in 2029.”

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