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New church ‘sign of life’ on Coast

Rock foundations: Surfers Paradise associate pastor Fr Nicholas Okafor, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Surfers Paradise parish priest Fr Tim Harris and associate pastor Fr Christopher Obi stand with the foundation stone of their future church.

Rock foundations: Surfers Paradise associate pastor Fr Nicholas Okafor, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Surfers Paradise parish priest Fr Tim Harris and associate pastor Fr Christopher Obi stand with the foundation stone of their future church.

By Emilie Ng

RECONSTRUCTION on one of the Gold Coast’s most treasured churches is a sign of new life for the entire Church, Surfers Paradise parish priest Fr Tim Harris said.

Stella Maris Church, Broadbeach, demolished earlier this year, is being reconstructed into a new $3 million church, and expected to open in time for Christmas Masses.

Frames and two walls marking the church’s new entrance have already been established on the Stella Maris site.

Church blessing: Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge blessing the site of the new Stella Maris Church, Broadbeach on October 2. The parish community worked hard to make the day a reality.

Church blessing: Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge blessing the site of the new Stella Maris Church, Broadbeach on October 2. The parish community worked hard to make the day a reality.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge visited the church site on October 2 to bless the foundation stone and constructions.

Generous donors from Gold Coast residents and some of the Surfers Paradise parish community, which consists of three churches in the region, and Gold Coast clergy also attended the blessing ceremony.

Fr Harris said selling the Stella Maris Church land site was “not an option” considering the prime location on Broadbeach, considered one of the fastest growth areas on the Gold Coast.

“How appropriate it is for a Catholic church to be front and centre, or in the middle, of all that other stuff going on?” Fr Harris said.

“It made sense for me to stay, to build a new church, to stake our claim and move forward in faith.”

Stella Maris is one of four parishes in the Brisbane archdiocese undergoing reconstructions.

“So there are four parishes that are not prepared to roll over and die,” Fr Harris said.

“We are prepared to get serious about our presence, our preaching, and to be attractive again.”

Emotional parishioners have been encouraged and uplifted by the speed of construction.

Maureen McCabe has been in the parish for 60 years, and her late husband John McCabe assisted with the electrical wiring for the old Stella Maris church.

Mrs McCabe said the new church would be “beautiful”.

“We all want it,” Mrs McCabe said.

“It serves the people from around here, so it’s good to keep the history here.”

Before blessing the new site, Archbishop Coleridge said it would become “a house of God” and “not just another piece of real estate”.

“This place is holy ground because here God pitches His tent among us, at the heart of Broadbeach,” he said.

“People out there think the Catholic Church is going out of business, but we are here today to pledge our confidence in the future.”

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