MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CONTRUCTION OF SAINT JOSEPH’S CHURCH, WEST BRUNSWICK, ON SATURDAY 21 MARCH 2009 AT 6PM.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am delighted to join my friends at Saint Joseph’s as we thank God for the fifty years of completion of our new church here at Saint Joseph’s. Jesus challenges Nicodemus in the Gospel today to open his heart in faith to the gift of God.
We thank God for the many times he has come to meet us as his people in this church and we praise him for his constant nearness to the people of West Brunswick. Unlike Nicodemus we go forward with firm faith and trust in his ability to make us new, as we call to mind our sins.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Jesus has promised us that when the Son of Man was lifted up he would draw all people to himself. We know through the work of our parish church that God has loved us so much that all who believe in him are offered eternal life. For fifty years in this church people have been offered the meetings with Christ in the Mass and the Sacraments which not only offer but pledge eternal life.
As we thank God together for this great gift, let us remember his constant forgiveness and his constant invitation to belief and entrusting ourselves to Jesus. Nicodemus was hesitant. The Jews in the Old Testament were fickle. We come with new faith because Jesus is our Lord and Saviour.
Our patron, Saint Joseph, whose feast we celebrated on Thursday was the guardian of the Holy Family. He did not doubt God’s power to be betrothed to Mary, to accompany her to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus and back to his home, to protect them in the flight to Egypt, and now I am certain that he protects the people of Saint Joseph’s with the same loving care that he provided for Jesus and Mary.
The history of Saint Joseph’s is a proud one since its establishment in 1913. The first baptism recorded in the register is 23rd March 1913. Archbishop Carr laid the foundation stone of the presbytery on 13th September 1913 and Archbishop Mannix laid the foundation stone of the old church on 9th November, 1918.
Work on the first section of the new church (the sanctuary, sacristies and transepts and nave as far as half way) was begun in September 1949. After this section was completed the smaller first church was demolished so that the existing church could be extended to its present dimensions. The church was blessed by Bishop Arthur Fox on Palm Sunday, 22nd March 1959. The altar facing the people, together with the two side altars and the tabernacle, were constructed in late 1967. The organ, which is now in the church at Keilor Downs, was installed at the same time in 1967.
Bishop Joseph O’Connell consecrated the church on 31st October 1991, consecrating the main altar and the two side altars and enclosing in it the relics of Saint Valerius, martyr, Saint Francis Borgia, religious, and Saint Pius X, pope.
I have long come to admire the simplicity, spaciousness and beautiful sanctuary of Saint Joseph’s and I enjoyed the time that I spent here with you. In the words of Father John McDonnell: “This building was a most worthy house of prayer and temple of worship, a home in which God’s people are nourished by Word and Sacraments.”
This Mass of Thanksgiving is a tremendously encouraging moment, when we reach out to our God asking that his protection and light will be with us, with our present parish priest, Father Pat Harvey, and will bless and strengthen the wonderful goodness of the people of Saint Joseph’s. You are renowned for love and constancy of faith.
May the Lord, whom Saint Joseph protected so ably in his earthly life, guide you on your earthly journey to the day when we will be reunited in the kingdom of heaven.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbo