By Caroline Smith
After a number of busy bee clean-ups and several months of construction, St Luke’s Parish in Woodvale has welcomed a new Columbarium and grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima.
The construction was blessed and opened on 1 May by Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey, who also officiated at the Sunday Mass alongside parish priest Father Francisco Mascarenhas.
Fr Mascarenhas said the project had been a long-awaited dream for him, but had only come about in recent months when a concrete plan was finally put in place.
“The idea of building a Columbarium and grotto first came to me about four years ago, but nothing came of it,” he said.
“Lack of free land and insufficient enthusiasm left the idea in cold storage.
“Then, recently, as I finished my morning prayers in the Church, a very clear picture suddenly came into my mind of where we should build it – making use of the existing little courtyard by the Church.”
After the project was proposed to the Parish Pastoral Council – who supported it unanimously – Fr Mascarenhas approached architect Phil Meynert, who is also a parishioner at St Luke’s, to come up with a design.
Fr Mascarenhas was pleasantly surprised when Mr Meynert’s idea for the location of the Columbarium matched his own, and work began on the project in February.
Parishioners gathered on Saturday mornings for several busy bees to add finishing touches to the construction, and were thanked at the opening for their work – with long-term parishioner Fred Martins being singled out for his contribution.
However, inclement weather meant that some of the work – such as the addition of glass and some painting of the grotto – still had to be done.
Following the Mass and inauguration, parishioners gathered for a special bring-and-share morning tea to celebrate the new Columbarium and grotto, the opening date being significant for two reasons, according to Fr Mascarenhas.
“I really wanted the grotto to be blessed on the first day of May because it is the beginning of the traditional month of Mary,” he said.
He added that the opening’s date was also the 36th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, which had taken place on 1 May 1980 in Goa.