OUR Lady of the Rosary Church, Kenmore, was bursting with parishioners – inaugural and newcomers – celebrating the church building’s 50 years of sacramental nourishment and devotion on July 13.
Kenmore parish priest Fr Mark Franklin said it was a day full of joy and community spirit where people from musicians and choristers to lunch organisers and groundskeepers could work together to celebrate together.
“We had a full church of parishioners, former parishioners and lots of invited guests,” Fr Franklin said.
“These events are important for the faith community to gather and support each other, and to celebrate what’s happened in the past and look to the future with hope and know that God is somewhere in amongst all the mess.”
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge celebrated a Mass for the church anniversary before about 260 attendees moved to a lunch with a talk by former parishioner and Jesuit Father Frank Brennan.
“(Fr Brennan’s) family are from here and he grew up here, so he celebrated his first Mass in the parish church here,” Fr Franklin said.
“He came back for the occasion and he gave a lovely talk about the early days.”
In his speech, Fr Brennan said Kenmore was a young parish when Our Lady of the Rosary was built in 1969.
“Vatican II (Second Vatican Council) was not long finished,” he said. “Kenmore, Chapel Hill and Brookfield were brand new suburbs.”
Fr Brennan spoke about the many families who settled in the parish, and his time as an altar boy there – as well as anecdotes from parish life.
“The midnight Masses at Easter and Christmas were actually at midnight,” he said. “Some kids came in pyjamas. And at Christmas, everyone was keen to get home to see what Santa had brought.
“Sometimes Santa was spotted from the back seat of the car on the way home, or even en route if Santa was getting ahead of himself that year.”
Fr Brennan spoke about the commissioning of the school and the horror on parishioners’ faces when his mother rushed onto the sanctuary to help clean up a blunder he made as an altar boy.
“I am delighted to return to my Catholic roots here at OLR Kenmore today, to celebrate a parish which has given life, liturgy and purpose to so many families especially in those early post-Vatican II, pioneering days,” he said.
Being such a young parish when the church was built, many of the original parishioners were there to celebrate 50 years, Fr Franklin said.
“Not a lot of people lived out here, so it was quite a feat to actually get this quite large church,” he said.
“I think to celebrate that with some of the people who were here as adults and also as children, who witnessed and saw the growing of a parish, I think that’s significant for the community itself.
“(It’s significant) for both the older parishioners, but also the newer parishioners too because we have a lot of ethnic families out here who live in the parish; they are part of the history of the 50 years.
“There’s been a great change in the parish, from a very Australian parish to a very ethnically diverse parish.”
The church community has always had a strong connection with its patron, Our Lady of the Rosary.
Fr Franklin said the parish was named Our Lady of the Rosary in 1961, the parish school was named Our Lady of the Rosary in 1963 and the church followed suit in 1969.
“The parish has had a strong devotion to (the Virgin) Mary over those years and the Rosary as well,” he said.
But a church was more than just its name and its building materials.
“Churches are places for people to come and refresh themselves on their pilgrim journey as disciples,” Fr Franklin said. “They are built to celebrate the sacraments, for people to come and pray, and for people to be nourished through the sacraments, through devotions.
“It’s a building that’s like a well, (where) people can come to and then can move out into the world to do their missionary activity.
“Often, I think sometimes we think churches are the Church, but actually the Church is obviously of course the people – the church (building) is only there to serve the community.
“That’s why it’s important to have these places where people can come and be nourished and celebrate, and be nourished by the sacraments and celebrate their religious lives in that context.”
Into the future, the church community hoped to expand its ministries out to the west.
“It’s a big parish, it’s a big geographical parish and it expands out to the west,” Fr Franklin said.
“So I suppose the plan is to continue to live out the Gospel message and the mission of the Church and to look at how we do that in different and new ways.
“Hopefully we can receive some direction from the Plenary Council 2020, which is an important council to give the Church in Australia direction.”