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Place to call home

Supportive community: Ipswich councillor Paul Tully, Sheila Island, Brisbane Catholic Education executive director Pam Betts, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Fr Mauro Conte, Member for Blair Shayne Neumann, property developer Maha Sinnathamby and councillor David Morrisman.

Supportive community: Ipswich councillor Paul Tully, Sheila Island, Brisbane Catholic Education executive director Pam Betts, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Fr Mauro Conte, Member for Blair Shayne Neumann, property developer Maha Sinnathamby and councillor David Morrisman.

By Emilie Ng

OWNING a home is a dream for many Australians, but some, including Springfield’s Catholic parish, can only wade through the rental market.

For the past five years, Springfield parish priest Fr Mauro Conte and his large congregation of 700, mostly comprising young families, have yearned to stop “renting” from their gracious neighbours, St Augustine’s College, and own their own “home”.

“We’re a vibrant parish, and we’ve been having Mass in a school hall, which has been very gracious of them, but it’s a bit like renting,” parishioner Bede Welsh said.

“To own your own home and all the challenges and pleasures of it, it’s a different feeling,” he said.

Since its establishment in 2011, the Springfield Catholic community has learnt to thrive without a church, holding Mass and other sacraments in the Augustine Centre at St Augustine’s College.

Last week, on Divine Mercy Sunday, the community’s prayers for a new home were “only a year away” from being answered fully.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge visited the community, to bless the land where they will build their first church on April 12.

Parish priest Fr Mauro Conte said the community couldn’t wait to walk through the doors of their own church in mid-2016.

“This is the church we will build as a community,” Fr Conte said.

“When I say the first Mass in the church, it will be like we are owning that place.”

Approximately 30 per cent of the new church’s design, which Fr Conte described as “a peaceful and prayerful place”, is finalised.

“This will be an iconic church, visible from all views in Springfield,” he said.

As with most first-home owners, paying for the house and land can be a burden, but Fr Conte and his finance committee have found a way to bring in an extra $60,000 a year to pay for their new church.

“Our main fundraising is a sausage sizzle at Suncorp Stadium,” Fr Conte said.

“Every game, every concert, we are there selling sausages from St Thomas More Church (in the Jubilee parish).

“It brings around $60,000 a year, and we’ve been doing it for three or four years now.”

Despite having no church, Springfield’s pastoral council chairperson and St Mary’s College Ipswich teacher Philomena Folan said the parish has no trouble filling up the school hall.

“The hall is packed every Sunday morning for Mass,” Mrs Folan said.

More than 75 children “hop up” with excitement for children’s liturgy, Mrs Folan said.

The community has already attracted ministries such as Couples for Christ, devotional prayer groups, and has hosted various social events, all before owning its own “home”.

The parish is also home to a new cluster of the Sisters of St Paul de Chartres, who last year started a new community in Springfield.

“We’ve been waiting and waiting, and now things are happening,” she said.

“We will have a place we call home.”

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