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Impressive first church ready to open at Springfield

Fr Mauro Conte

Dream realised: Fr Mauro Conte inside the new Our Lady of the Southern Cross Church,
Springfield Lakes. Photo: Mark Bowling

BRISBANE’S newest church will be blessed and dedicated next Friday – the completion of a “spiritual dream” for parish priest Fr Mauro Conte and patient parishioners of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, Springfield Lakes.

For seven years Springfield’s place of worship has been a hall at St Augustine’s College, with packed Sunday congregations reaching 450-500 people.

Together parishioners have prayed, planned and fundraised for a new spiritual home.

The new Our Lady of the Southern Cross Church will seat 520 – but much more than that, the new church is an artistic showpiece, rich in design and full of religious symbols.

At night the illuminated crosses above the new church will shine like beacons high over Springfield Lakes.

“It was an effort to make this church prayerful and spiritual and also artistic,” Fr Conte said.

He travelled to Italy to order the key materials, and also to convince renowned Jesuit artist Fr Marko Rupnik to produce unique mosaic works and to paint panels of glass depicting nine scenes from the life of Mary.

Fr Rupnik is the creative man behind the Jubilee of Mercy logo and he is known for his bold, colourful icons featured in churches and sacred spaces around the world.

The mosaics are still to be installed, but will include a mural wall behind the sanctuary depicting the Wedding of Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle by turning water into wine.

Fr Conte is enthused and convinced the new church will be an inspirational place of worship.

“I think a church should be very artistic. And why don’t we use the space we have inside, like in old times, to catechise people. The kids will love that,” he said.

“I think it is important we go back to the original thought that the church is a church. It is not a hall.

“Certainly there will be people who come to the church just for the art.”

Unlike many contemporary churches, Our Lady of the Southern Cross contains no see-through windows to the surroundings.

However, the painted glass panels of Mary allow light to enter and are one of the artistic showpieces.

The chairs, lectern and baptismal font are cut from Jerusalem stone and the pews are made of beechwood from Germany’s Black Forest.

Rosso francia  – red marble from France – covers the sanctuary floor and Sardinian white marble covers most of the remaining floor-space.

The new church project has been on the drawing board since the Springfield Catholic community was established in 2011.

It is a multicultural parish, which now boasts 20 nationalities, drawing on the rapidly growing population of Greater Springfield, a collection of five suburbs.

One of the main church fundraising efforts has involved Springfield church volunteers regularly travelling to Milton to operate a popular sausage sizzle outside Suncorp Stadium.

The project has also received donations from across the Brisbane archdiocese. “There are so many generous people out there. You just need to ask and they will give,” Fr Conte said.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge will celebrate the blessing and dedication of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, 44 Opperman Drive on Friday, September 1, starting at 6pm.

Tiler does ‘marbleous’ job on new church 

Joe Coco

Labour of love: Joe Coco. Photo: Mark Bowling.

FOR Brisbane tiler Joe Coco, the last 12 months have been a labour of love laying the floors of the new Our Lady of the Southern Cross Church.

As he completed last minute paving outside, he reflected on the biggest single job of his career – carefully working with huge blocks of imported marble that cover the entire church floor space.

“For me to have the opportunity to do this – it is an honour,” Mr Coco said.

“It’s something I have always wanted to do quite frankly.”

Joe’s father from Sicily, was also a tiler and brought his son into the trade.

However, in Brisbane working with marble is usually confined to a wall or floor, “but nothing so grand as an entire church,” Mr Coco said.

“We’ve been dealing with three metre slabs of marble.

“I mean this is an enormous project – over a thousand square metres of beautiful stone.”

Mr Coco said he expected that people would come to Springfield to visit the new church.

“Once the mosaics are completed, I think they will come flocking. Definitely,” he said.

Mr Coco points out some of the key features of the church’s marble floor including a “butterfly effect” in which identical slabs of marble sit side by side  down the main aisle, creating a pleasing, symmetrical look to the finished floor.

“From the door to the altar, it is a continuous pattern. I don’t think you will see that anywhere in Australia,” he said.

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