The first was Our Lady Help of Christians at Mallabula, part of the Raymond Terrace Parish and the second being St Brigid’s in Dubbo.
Given I am 64, that probably says something about the saturation of Catholic Churches across the diocese, particularly in the Newcastle area where the distance between Churches is only a few minutes’ drive. It also says something about the age and size of some of our churches, as was the case in Dubbo where a new St Brigid’s replaced a Church built in the 1860s and more than doubled its size.
At East Lake Macquarie Parish in Belmont, the construction of a new St Francis Xavier’s Catholic Church replaces a much smaller and largely inadequate Church with a stunning new facility that will serve the needs of the parish community for years to come.
Opened on Pentecost Sunday, often referred to as the “birthday” of the Christian Church, this new Church is another example of the Church responding to its purpose of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to all.
Bishop Bill, in his homily, also brought another relevant anniversary to mind when he mentioned that the 15 May was the date of the first celebration of the first official Mass in Australia in 1803 by Fr James Dixon, a convict.
A spill over congregation witnessed the consecration of St Francis Xavier’s and marvelled at the way it has been connected to the previous Church. It is certainly a welcome addition to the life of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
The Mass readings for Pentecost Sunday remind us of the purpose of our Churches and parishes, as instruments of the Church, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, on the day when the followers of Jesus were filled with the energy to go out to all nations and teach them the Good News.
To Fr Gerard Mackie and the parishioners of East Lake Macquarie Parish, I extend my special congratulations on the foresight to build this impressive symbol of a Church that reaches out to its community and tells a good news story.
For Bishop Bill, it must portray and reflect a very positive message of the diocese living its purpose as it proceeds with the building of new schools, new early learning centres and this new church to enable the love of God to be proclaimed in every corner of the diocese.