JESUS’ promise to be living waters to all who believe is now a promise to residents of two communities within Brisbane’s Northern Rivers deanery.
As of January 1, the Catholic parishes of Stanley River and neighbouring Caboolture have united to form one community, known as the Living Waters parish.
From the official decree of establishment, signed by Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, the decision was made to unite the communities “to ensure the best provision of priestly ministry and pastoral care”.
The decree brings together Catholics who worship at St Peter’s, Caboolture; Little Flower, Bribie Island; St Mary’s, Woodford; St Michael’s, Kilcoy; and the Beachmere community.
All five communities belong to the Northern Rivers deanery, which stretches from Bray Park to the Stanley River.
The decision to unite the communities was proposed by Archbishop Coleridge and the archdiocese’s Council of Priests and proposed to Caboolture parish priest Fr David Pascoe and former Stanley River parish administrator Fr Dantus Thottathil.
Fr Pascoe said the parish title “Living Waters” was suggested and voted on by parishioners, and was the “clear selection”.
He said there were at least three reasons to unify the two communities.
“The issues were isolation of the priest in Stanley River, the proximity of the parishes, and the use of pastoral resources,” he said.
As far as pastoral resources go, the widespread parish covering 90km between Bribie Island and Kilcoy is surviving with just two priests.
This made the first two weekends of Masses in January “a bit tense” as schedules were changed to allow Fr Pascoe and associate pastor Fr Lucius Edomobi to celebrate Mass at as many communities as practically possible, while still having time to greet members of their new community.
“We wanted to allow some time to talk to the people, because we can’t just pop in and pop out,” Fr Pascoe said.
While acknowledging the changes weren’t easy for all members of the community, Fr Pascoe had hope in the future of the parish, saying the unification of other Brisbane parishes, namely Ipswich, Jubilee and Gatton-Laidley, showed the changes can work.
Fr Pascoe said amalgamating communities was a practical reality given there were not enough priests to cover a rapidly growing demographic.
“In the future, the development of the South East corner means we will have to take this into consideration again and again,” he said.
“This won’t be the last time we look at how best we can resource the South East corner of Queensland. It’s a new reality.”
In accordance with canon law, a finance council and pastoral council will be established in the parish, and Fr Pascoe is to be installed as parish priest within three months.
Archbishop Coleridge said in the decree of establishment that the living water offered to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well was a promise for the faithful of the new parish.
“May the rivers and waterways of this new parish always be a reminder of Jesus’ promise of this ‘living water’ and may it become, in the people, a spring of water welling up to eternal life,” he wrote.