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Rare event at St Mary’s


Episcopal visitor:Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge blessing the altar at St Mary’s Church, South Brisbane.

CAPUCHIN Friars like South Brisbane parish priest Fr Lam Vu are known for their strict vow of poverty, so paying off parish debts would seem impossible.

That was not the case for Fr Vu, who last week joined Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge for a rare ritual in St Mary’s church, South Brisbane, the consecration of the church and altar.

“Churches are only consecrated once the community has paid it off,” Fr Vu said.

For the past year, Fr Vu has rallied the surrounding South Brisbane community to fund church restorations, which included more than $100,000 in floor upgrades.

“I paid around $230,000, mainly through donations,” he said.

With restorations now complete, Fr Vu drew the community together to consecrate, or dedicate, St Mary’s church, South Brisbane.

The ancient rite dates back to Biblical times, and is canonically different to a blessing of a sacred space.

Churches can be consecrated at the same time as an altar, and chrism oil is poured over a newly installed altar after which it is incensed. 

Consecrations or dedications are reserved for the local bishop, and can be concelebrated by the pastor, and involves lighting 12 candles, symbolising the tribes of Jerusalem.

“It is a rare event,” Fr Vu said.

“Not everyone, even priests, gets to do this.

“It’s a once in a lifetime blessing for me.”

More than 250 people walked over the church’s newly tiled floor and took their place in new pews to pray with the South Brisbane community.

“At the end of the Mass, I said, although it is a dedication and consecration of the church and altar, what we are celebrating is the completion of the restoration,” Fr Vu said.

“To see so many people attending the Mass, more than 250, was moving to see.

“Everything is in place.

“The church is all for Mary, St Mary’s is all for Mary.”

By Emilie Ng

Catholic Church Insurance

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