Thirty years of prayer and work have paid off: a new church for St Madeleine Sophie Barat Parish, Kenthurst is finally going to be built with construction beginning this month.
Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, celebrated Mass at St Madeleine Sophie Barat Parish on Sunday 1 July and then turned the first sod on ground where the church will be built.
“This is a dream come true,” long time parishioner Maria Aiossa said.
“We have a very close-knit community and building this is even going to make us closer together,” she said.
“Finally, the children attending our two schools will be able to experience the sacredness of a proper Church and all that it symbolises.”
Maria emphasised the inspiration she has experienced when visiting churches on pilgrimage, such as when visiting St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Churches should prioritise the sacred and they naturally give people a sense of awe, she explained. The dignity of the sacraments means they deserve the high quality materials and construction.
“And if we believe in the Catholic tradition, this is part of it.
“I have to thank Bishop Vincent for believing in us that we as a community deserve to have a Church, a proper built church,” Maria Aiossa emphasised.
The parish has used former school halls for decades after a small sandstone chapel became too small.
The former chapel celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2015 and is now owned by Max Mannix, a popular Australian artist, who uses the former chapel as his studio.
Alleanza Architecture is designing the new church and describes it as “a synthesis of current Church planning which incorporates all liturgical reforms of Vatican within a building form that evokes a modern interpretation of traditional Churches.” (sic)
Click the image below and scroll to the bottom of the page to watch a video of what the church may look like.
The tradition of temples has a long history, dating back to the beginning of creation, to the Garden of Eden, where God would walk and speak with humanity (Gn 3:8). The Temple in Jerusalem contained the presence of God and harkened back to the days of Eden with flower, tree and garden motifs (1 Kings 6:18). The Gothic style of church architecture also frequently contains natural motifs. The new church in Kenthurst will also be nestled among nature.
Fr Vincent Savarimuthu, Parish Priest of St Madeleine Sophie Barat Parish, Kenthurst, is thrilled that a house of God will be built in his parish.
“The parish has gone through numerous setbacks – struggles, frustrations, rejection, and disappointments in the process of having this church in the parish. Somehow, this church finally getting constructed is an embodiment of the hopes of many,” Fr Vincent said.
“Because the new church building will be visible from the road, we hope that we will have a better Catholic presence in the area.
“Having a free-standing church with rich symbols of our faith will hopefully be a faith-enhancing experience for the students of St Madeleine’s Primary and Marian College every time they come for the celebration of the Mass and their other sacraments.
“Though we had meaningful celebrations in the multi-purpose hall that functioned as our Mass centre for the past 30 years, we believe that the church will elevate the quality of our celebrations.
“It will be home to a unified community, to be passed on to generations.
“As Pope Francis has stated, I hope that this church will be a ‘hospital for the wounded’ and a spiritual love home for everyone,” Fr Vincent said.
The great task of campaigning and fundraising to build a church has had a positive effect on the community so far. The first Gala Dinner was held in February, an effort to begin the fundraising campaign, and has received over $280,000 in pledges so far.
“Not only did we kick start our fund-raising for the church through excellent ticket sales, participation in the games and raffle, donations, sponsorships, and pledges, but we had a wonderful community celebration,” Fr Vincent said.
“It was a good feeling that the local Mayor and a few more government officials joined us that night. We had the coming together of parishioners of all ages for a light-hearted, fun-filled night. Everyone left feeling very positive.”