By Caroline Smith
A parish is a place where people walk side-by-side with Jesus, and represent God’s community in the world, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB told attendees at a recent Mass to mark the 50TH anniversary of the blessing and opening of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Nollamara Parish.
The Mass, held on Sunday 24 September, brought together a church full of parishioners past and present, and was celebrated by Archbishop Costelloe and con-celebrated by Parish Priest Father Stanislaw Bendkowski SDS, Fr Laurence Murphy SDS and Fr Vincent Glynn.
In his homily, Archbishop Costelloe said that such an anniversary was both a time of celebration and reflection on the nature of Catholic community at both parish and universal levels.
“This anniversary is an occasion for gratitude, for acknowledgment, and for hope. I think it’s also an occasion for us as a Christian community to reflect on just why it is that we come to church week after week,” he said.
“Or even more fundamentally perhaps, to reflect on the question, just why is there a Church at all. And in saying that I don’t mean the building, I mean us, the people. The people who together are called to be disciples of Jesus, living side-by-side with Jesus, present in the world.
“I think we’re always invited to look at the past, at the present and at the future in terms of what we understand the Lord is asking of His Church. Because any parish community is meant to be a very locally-grounded example of what the Church is meant to be, of what God is asking of His people.”
He added that the particular structure of Our Lady of Lourdes Church drew people’s eyes to the altar, emphasising the importance of the Eucharistic celebration at the centre of Catholic life.
“The thing that strikes you when you walk through the door is that the altar is at the heart of everything: that’s really important because what that tells us is that this parish community, this local Catholic community, which is meant to be a living example of what the whole Catholic Church is all about, is a Eucharistic community,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“It is a community that in the end is founded on the celebration of the Eucharist, on our willingness and our readiness and I hope I could also say our eagerness to keep coming back week after week, to be together, so that together we can grow in our understanding of what it means to be disciples of Jesus.”
Nollamara Parish was initially established in 1958, and has had a longstanding connection to Our Lady of Lourdes School – with one of the school rooms turned into a chapel for weekly Mass.
The Rev Fr Rupert Kelly was Parish Priest from that time until his death in 1992, and he was present for the blessing and opening of Our Lady of Lourdes Church on 24 September 1967 by the Most Rev Bishop Myles McKeon.
Special Lourdes water was brought from the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in France and was used by the Bishop for the blessing of the Church.
Nollamara has had four Parish Priests in total: Rev Kelly, Fr Joe Walsh, Fr Lawrence Murphy and Fr Stanislaw Bendkowski.
Following Mass on Sunday, attendees gathered at the Parish Centre for a morning tea to celebrate the parish’s history.