ST Maximilian Kolbe Parish has never been a wealthy parish but always rich in community spirit.
Parish priests, past and present, vouch for that as the Kingston Marsden parish in the heart of Logan City celebrates its 40th anniversary this weekend (October 17 and 18).
There will be two anniversary Masses – a Special Remembrance Mass for deceased parishioners on Saturday night, with parish priest Divine Word Missionaries Father Sunil Paul Nagothu presiding; and a Thanksgiving Mass on Sunday morning, with Archbishop Mark Coleridge as main celebrant.
Fr Sunil said one of the first things visitors to the parish noticed was “our strong sense of community”.
“I have worked in many parishes, but this one is rather special,” he said.
“The innate sense of service is something that is difficult to find elsewhere – whether it is families offering their services to do gardening or plan events, or perhaps individuals offering their skills to conduct repairs.”
Fr Pat Cassidy, who was parish priest for eight years following on from founding pastor Fr Bernie Gallagher, said that spirit was evident from the start.
“It’s never been a wealthy community, of course, but they are very good people, and good people to work with,” he said.
He knew them as generous people who supported each other.
“They are basically very good people, and very caring people, which is what you needed in a place like that because there were a lot of people who were struggling,” Fr Cassidy said.
“People like St Vinnies (St Vincent de Paul Society) were very busy down there, and we had a very solid Vinnies group and they were very much to the fore in doing things but, like Vinnies, not wanting to big-note themselves.
“They were an ideal and typical St Vinnies group, and did marvellous work there.”
Leading in to this weekend’s anniversary Masses, the parish has participated in a parish mission followed by the St Maximilian Kolbe Novena including special prayers each night followed by Mass.
Fr Gallagher was to celebrate the first of the Masses, with some of the original parishioners attending.
Other Masses during the week would be led by members of the Asian, Pacific Islands and African communities, as well as the St Maximilian Kolbe Youth.
Fr Sunil said the Masses during the week would give parishioners unable to attend Sunday’s Thanksgiving Mass an opportunity to be part of the anniversary celebrations.
The Thanksgiving Mass will be a multicultural affair with flags of different nations displayed at the altar.
COVID-19 restrictions will affect the number of people permitted to attend the Thanksgiving Mass.
Marquees will be erected outside, and the Mass will be televised to those areas and it will be livestreamed.
Fr Sunil will be giving thanks for the community he serves.
“It’s a very reverent community and there’s a lot of commitment from the people,” he said.
“We have nearly 100 volunteers committing themselves for various works in the parish – a lot of commitment from the people.
“So they’re happy to belong to the parish, and any organisation, any activities we have, lots and lots of people come, which is really a blessing …”
One aspect that particularly pleases Fr Sunil is commitment to the parish’s choirs.
“We have nine choirs in the parish,” he said.
He forms new ones as required, so if someone wants to become involved and there’s no space in existing choirs they can be accommodated.
“It’s one way of bringing them together from other groups, together to form a group …,” he said.
“I just call them a different name; I just take up a name and put them together – three or four families – and then suddenly those three or four families become five families, six families, and they become their own choir.”
They are then added to the roster to sing at different Masses.
The line-up includes the Saturday Night, African, Ekalesia, SMK Youth, Family, Divine Mercy, Trinity, St Peter the Rock and Filipino choirs.