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St Mary’s rises from the ashes

Day of blessing: Archbishop Mark Coleridge and special guests at the unveiling of plaques dedicated to St Mary’s Catholic Primary School’s new buildings.

Day of blessing: Archbishop Mark Coleridge and special guests at the unveiling of plaques dedicated to St Mary’s Catholic Primary School’s new buildings.

IN what was an ironic twist, heavy rain could not dampen the enthusiasm of guests at the blessing and opening of facilities replacing others destroyed by a fire at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Beaudesert, in 2013.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge concelebrated Mass on February 20 with St Mary’s parish priest Fr Michael McKeaten and Fr John Echewodo before blessing and officially opening the new facilities as the rain pelted down outside.

Archbishop Coleridge’s visit was part of St Mary’s open day, to thank those in the community who contributed to the rebuilding of the school after the devastating fire in 2013.

Principal Tim Stinson said the day was about thanking every person and organisation that contributed to helping St Mary’s get back on its feet.

Guests, including former St Mary’s parish priest Fr Bernie Gallagher, Scenic Rim Regional Council Mayor John Brent, Brisbane Catholic Education executive director Pam Betts, Federal Member for Wright Scott Buchholz, State Member for Beaudesert Jon Krause and Scenic Rim councillor for Beaudesert Cr Jennifer Sanders, had a chance to tour the school’s new $2 million state-of-the-art Year 5 and 6 building, as well as the refurbished administration building originally built in 1937.

The big wet could not dampen the excitement of hundreds of St Mary’s students who crowded around Archbishop Coleridge as he unveiled commemorative plaques for the new buildings.

The Archbishop said it was an honour to witness the new beginning for the school.

“It’s great to be back to see the phoenix rise from the ashes; to see something bigger and better and more beautiful arise from the ruins,” he said.

Archbishop Coleridge said what the St Mary’s community had managed to achieve since the fire was remarkable.

Ms Betts told those gathered that, despite the rain, it was good to be returning to the school “in celebration rather than commiseration”.

“I remember well that day in August 2013 when I arrived to witness the devastation caused to your school,” she said.

“I had visited the school just two days before for the blessing and opening of the kindergarten and Prep buildings, but the scene that greeted me a few days later was very different.

“While there was shock and sadness on that day there was also a sense of great optimism and hope.”

Ms Betts acknowledged the leadership of Mr Stinson in leading the clean-up and rebuilding processes with a spirit of purpose and a belief that out of adversity came opportunity.

“With the whole school and parish community behind him, and with the help of many sections of our office and the broader Beaudesert business community, we now gather again in celebration and witness of the opportunities that were forthcoming,” she said.

The historic administration block has stood at St Mary’s since 1937 and was heavily damaged in the fire, but its exterior was salvaged, allowing the school to rebuild it.

The school was also able to incorporate the original stained-glass windows into the new foyer, a feature that impressed Archbishop Coleridge as he blessed the building.

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