A GNARLY old mango tree that stood for decades on the site of Maroochydore’s new Stella Maris Church now takes pride of place in the place of worship.
Part of the mango tree was salvaged during construction and was fashioned into a cross that is the centerpiece of the new $5 million church.
When parish priest Fr Joe Duffy celebrated the first Mass during Advent, parishioners were in awe at the beauty and design of their new church, which features the work of local craftsmen.
High above the sanctuary, hangs an inspiring cross – made from the mango tree as a labour of love by the Blackall Range Woodcrafters’ Guild, a Sunshine Coast group of enthusiasts dedicated to working with wood.
“Mango can be an attractive wood to work with,” the guild’s president John Muller said.
“It picks up its colour depending on the minerals in the soil.”
Because only short sections of timber can be cut from a mango tree’s branches and trunk, the challenge for the Blackall Range Woodcrafters’ Guild was working with the small pieces.
The mango timber was dried in a solar-powered kiln – a process that took more than five weeks – and then 1m x 50cm wood pieces were glue laminated to form the cross.
“We had just enough to do the job; I think we had just three little pieces left over,” Mr Muller said.
“Then the interior decorators came back to us and asked if we could make the credence table and the kneelers. Those items were made from Victoria Ash timber. ”
The new 450-seat church is a showpiece for Brisbane architect and design firm Deicke Richards as well as building contractor Badge, and KHA Project Management.
It features shaded open verandahs with glue laminated timber columns and rafters, which wrap the church on three sides, transitioning to an interior with an inky, midnight-coloured ceiling.
“The darkened areas intentionally focus attention on the lightness of the sanctuary,” Deicke Richards interior designer Magda Myszkowski said.
“We worked with a lot of artisans to create the interior – the hand-painted icons and refurbished Stations of the Cross, locally designed and made pews, and the cross, carved from a mango tree on the site.
“The beautifully finished sanctuary items were cut and designed from one specially selected block of Italian marble, and finished by locally based stonemasons.”
The church is part of an innovative redevelopment of the Stella Maris site, which also delivers a 120-bed aged-care facility for St Vincent’s Health Care Services.