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Parish exults two great voyages – 100 years at St Brendan’s Church and 50 years at St Pius X Church

Family roots: The McGrath sisters – Joan McGrath, Rita King and Carmel Wilcox – at the double celebration for the centenary of St Brendan’s Church, Moorooka, and the 50th anniversary of St Pius X Church, Salisbury. Their grandfather, James Freney, was the chair of the committee that bought the land for the Moorooka church. Photo: Alan Edgecomb

VOYAGING like its patron St Brendan the Navigator, Moorooka Salisbury parish commemorated two great voyages – the centenary of St Brendan’s Church, Moorooka, and the 50th anniversary of St Pius X Church, Salisbury. 

Parishioner Penny Parker said the weekend was “wonderful”.

“It was just a lovely atmosphere in the whole two churches,” Ms Parker said.

“There was a lot of laughter and a real buzz of conversation; everyone just seemed to be really enjoying themselves.”

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge was visiting the parish as part of a pastoral visit and celebrated anniversary Masses at both St Brendan’s and St Pius X churches.

Parish priest Fr Dan Redhead said it was a bigger weekend than usual for a pastoral visit and he thanked the Archbishop, especially for his eloquent addresses and homilies.

Parish priest Fr Dan Redhead said it was a bigger weekend than usual for a pastoral visit and he thanked the Archbishop, especially for his eloquent addresses and homilies.

Fr Redhead said a special part of the weekend was the presentation of the parish historical book United in Faith, edited and compiled by parishioner Mary McMahon, to the Archbishop.

Ms McMahon said a lot of work went into the book, a collaboration of about 15 people on the history sub-committee and the contributions of many others.

Miraculous medals and the goats

She said she encountered a lot of interesting anecdotes and stories from parish life over the course of compiling the book – stories like the church foundation story.

The archbishop at the time was trying to buy land for the Church; he called in on the mother of the family next door.

The problem was the people who owned the desired land were atheists and wouldn’t sell to the Church.

But the archbishop was one step ahead.

He brought with him miraculous medals for the mother to sprinkle around the land, and so she went out and sprinkled the medals around the plot.

“The mother thought the goats got most of them,” Ms McMahon said with a laugh.

It eventually worked – 50 years later St Pius’ Church still stood tall.

Ms McMahon said there were countless stories from parish history – like the time a priest could not find anything to hold holy water in for a baptism and used a lemonade bottle.

Ms McMahon said the weekend was a chance to celebrate all the stories.

But festivities like those do not just fall into place.

Working hard to get it right

Fr Redhead said the festivities were about 18 months in the making from a dedicated team of parishioners. He was grateful to everyone who made it happen.

And the preparations certainly paid off.

“We had full churches,” Fr Redhead said.

“That’s thanks to past parishioners and friends who have taken the time to come back and celebrate with the parish.”

Ms Parker said it was an important chance to celebrate the two churches.

She said in both cases, Moorooka and Salisbury, there were difficulties erecting the churches, financially and physically.

“For Salisbury, (it was) because we came from a church that was two army huts pushed together, right up until 1969,” she said.

She said the weekend was a chance to stop and appreciate all the work that went into building the churches – from the working bees and the donations to the lifetimes of maintenance. 

“We felt it was a real celebration of what Salisbury was and is.”

Moorooka church-goer Denis Hanrahan said it was a “jolly busy weekend”.

Mr Hanrahan’s family had deep roots in the St Brendan’s community.

He said his two aunts were number-one and number-two on the St Brendan’s School roll. The school will be celebrating 90 years this year.

One of those aunts became a nun, too, he said.

Mr Hanrahan said it was a great weekend, especially getting to see old parishioners return.

At both functions the oldest parishioners in each church community cut the anniversary cake; St Brendan’s cake was cut by 100-year-old Margaret Byles and St Pius X’s cake was cut by Martin O’Connor, who is 95.

Cake cutting: 100-year-old Margaret Byles with Fr Daniel Redhead and Archbishop Mark Cole-ridge cutting the 100th anniversary cake. Photo: Alan Edgecomb

Fr Redhead said the parish was more than just the priest himself. 

“The priests stand there and lead the community in faith, but it is the People of God – the faith community – who are the ones who bear witness to things as well,” he said.

“It’s the faith life of the parish that is enduring. 

“With the grace of the Holy Spirit of course, then that is a fruit; that’s when you get the life and the drive and the vim and vigour to do things for the Lord.”

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