OUR LADY HELP OF CHRISTIANS CHURCH, HENDRA Our Lady Help of Christians Parish began its origins in the purchase by the Catholic Church of an old rambling residence belonging to the Bowman family on 3 acres of land which became the temporary church. A magnificent residence, although in very poor condition, it became the school as well in 1937 and incorporated the accommodation for the Parish Priest and housekeeper. It was used as a Church and School until 1946 and each weekend the school desks and church seats had to be interchanged to accommodate Masses. The Parish was established in 1928 by Fr Joseph V. Troy and the first Mass was held in the old house/church on 9 June 1929.
The first Parish Priest was Fr J B Lynch, later to become Monsignor Lynch, who was instrumental in the development and construction of the new church, Hall and Presbytery over the long period of his tenure, from 1934 – 1966. Two of Brisbane’s leading citizens played an important role in the establishment of the parish and school: T C Beirne and FJ MCDonnell. The Parish Priest of Hendra was invited to be the Racing Chaplain, a tradition which still stands today.
The original Presbytery in Bowman Street was built for Monsignor Lynch and dedicated in 1938. However, he elected to live in the old house and allow the Josephite Sisters who taught at the school to live there until such time as a Hendra convent was built for them. St Joseph’s Convent’s foundation stone was blessed and laid by Archbishop Duhig on 4 April 1948. During Monsignor Lynch’s pastorship, Our Lady Help of Christians School was opened by Archbishop Duhig on 8 December 1946. The newly opened school building also doubled as the church until the new church was built in 1961.
The foundation stone of the current Our Lady Help of Christians church was blessed and laid by the Most Rev Archbishop James Duhig DD KC MG LLD, Archbishop of Brisbane on 16 July 1961 with the opening of the church by His Grace on 3 December 1961. The Parish has been served by dedicated Parish Priests and Administrators commencing with the long-serving Monsignor Lynch, Frs P J Gillam and J Spence who each served for over 10 years.
ST CECILIA'S CHURCH, HAMILTON The parish of Hamilton was formed by Archbishop Duhig on 17 January, 1913, when he purchased the house and grounds at Hamilton known as ‘Huron’ for the sum of £1,450. Father John Gowen had been appointed the first parish priest and, until the church was built and the presbytery - ‘Huron’, the present mission house - renovated, he lived at St Stephen’s and travelled out each day to the parish. The committee he formed to collect money was successful and the foundation stone for the church was laid on 14 December, 1913. The church was completed and officially opened and blessed by Archbishop Duhig on Palm Sunday, 5 April, 1914. At the opening, the church was crowded to its utmost capacity and had in the congregation such notables of the day as T.C. Beirne, G.W.Gray and Peter Murphy. The centenary of the opening of St Cecilia’s Church was marked on Palm Sunday, 13 April 2014 with a Mass at 2.00pm celebrated by Archbishop Mark Coleridge. After the Mass there was a celebration with an afternoon tea in the Church Hall. In recent years, St. Cecilia’s Church has been repainted and has had a new roof installed. The old school building which doubled as the church hall for many years has been transformed into St Cecilia’s Childcare and Early Learning Centre.
ST JOHN'S CHURCH, NORTHGATE St John’s Catholic Church in Nudgee Road, Northgate was Australia’s first civilian church erected as a Royal Australian Navy War Memorial Church. Archbishop Patrick O’Donnell blessed and opened it on Sunday 5th August 1962.
The Navy Minister (Senator Gorton), the officer-in-charge of the Eastern Australian area (Rear Admiral G.Gatacre) and the Naval officer-in-charge, Queensland (Commander J. Ferguson) were present at the Opening.
On Thursday, 2nd August 1962, Northgate’s Parish Priest (the Rev Father V. Rowan) formally received from the Naval Association a roll of honour bearing the names of 171 sailors, enlisted in Brisbane, who died in World War II.
St John’s Convent School, under the care of the Presentation Sisters, was opened on 9th December 1951 and the first classes commenced on 29th January 1952. The school closed on 31st December 1995.
St John’s Church and School were under the leadership of one priest based at Our Lady Help of Christian’s, Hendra until steps were taken to formalise an amalgamation of the two Parishes.
A Parish Meeting dated Tuesday 1 December 1981 at which the parishioners of St John’s were consulted by members of the Archdiocesan Consulters, namely Fathers Kearney and Mollison. While they indicated that they were operating as two parishes and two schools, they were under the leadership of one priest who administered the two entities as one unit. This document also suggests that Fr Peter Gillam who was appointed to Hendra on the First Sunday of January 1977 was then in charge of the St John’s Parish of Northgate. A second letter of appointment dated 8th September 1980 from Archbishop Francis Rush stated, ‘This letter will serve as official confirmation of your appointment as Parish Priest of Hendra and of the enlargement of the Parish to include what was the Parish of Northgate.’ However no formal signed decree was undertaken at this time.
In response to the omission of a signed decree when the Archbishop enlarged the parish of Our Lady Help of Christians, Hendra to include the parish of St John’s Northgate in 1980, Fr Michael McCarthy (now Bishop McCarthy), then Parish Priest of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish, petitioned the Archbishop on 5th August 2013 for a formal signed degree of amalgamation of the two Parishes. On 2nd October 2013, after having consulted the Council of Priests, Archbishop Mark Coleridge signed the decree that the parishes of Our Lady Help of Christians and St John’s were amalgamated to form the new parish of Our Lady Help of Christians, Hendra.
This decree was back dated to the 8th September 1980 when a letter of appointment was signed by Archbishop Rush appointing Fr Peter Gillam as the Parish Priest of the parish of Our Lady Help of Christians, Hendra and to include the enlarged area which was previously the parish of St John’s, Northgate. St John’s now rests in the care of the Parish Priest of the amalgamated Parish of Our Lady Help of Christians.