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Ocean of faith

By Emilie Ng

NOBODY but God could have mustered the miraculous support Gold Coast priest Fr Tim Harris received when he promised a new church for Broadbeach Catholics.

After promising to rebuild Stella Maris Church more than four years ago, Fr Harris stood an “overwhelmed” but “happy man” as about 1000 people witnessed Archbishop Mark Coleridge dedicate Stella Maris Church on February 27.

While cautious to claim any instance as miraculous, Fr Harris gave Stella Maris Church a hearty exception.

“Look, I’m careful to use that word but tonight, at the end of an extraordinary story, it’s a miracle all right,” Fr Harris said.

The miracle is the sum of a “community achievement”, where hundreds have both prayed and given from their pockets to raise up the new church on the Gold Coast foreshore.

Retiree and parishioner Justin King donated $500,000, while deceased parishioner Joan Enright left $1.2 million in a bequest to the Stella Maris rebuild.

Donations given through a parish fundraising campaign also helped to bring the donations to a total $3.1 million.

“I’ve been buoyed about what’s happened but I really feel it was an achievement of the community because its been talked about I suppose for four and a half years seriously and so tonight is a very happy night,” Fr Harris said.

“I didn’t think for one moment when we announced that we were going to build a church that we’d get anywhere near what we needed.

“I felt sure I’d be going to the archdiocese and asking for big bickies to complete this job, but as it turned out, we haven’t had to borrow.

“The money has just come in and really it’s been a gift from Heaven in every possible way.”

The community support has also helped encourage Fr Harris in his priestly ministry.

“I feel as a priest at times you don’t deserve it to be honest,” Fr Harris said.

“We do good things and perhaps not so good things at times – we make mistakes – and I think from that point of view we’re just so happy when people come up and thank you for what you’ve done.

“I’m overwhelmed by (the community support).

“It’s given me a huge lift and I’m very grateful.

“I’m a very happy man tonight.”

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