On the weekend of 12 and 13 October, the former parish of Our Lady of Lourdes (OLOL), Baulkham Hills South, celebrated the 50th anniversary of its establishment.
The celebrations for the Golden Jubilee of Our Lady of Lourdes followed the 6pm Vigil Mass on 12 October with an archives display showcasing the parish’s history in the church’s Fr John Kelly Auditorium.
View images from the OLOL Golden Jubilee here or below.
The following morning, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, celebrated the Golden Jubilee Mass at 9.30am, with parish priest Fr Wim Hoekstra, assistant priest Fr Zvonimir Gavranovic and former parish priest Fr Michael O’Callaghan concelebrating.
“Our Golden Jubilee was a special time of grace, great joy and renewal. The Mass with Bishop Vincent and all our celebrations were absolutely wonderful. On behalf of Fr Wim and the amazing Coordinating Committee, my deep gratitude and thanks to everyone involved in our Golden Jubilee celebration,” OLOL Golden Jubilee Coordinator Bernard Ryall said.
“It was indeed a great honour for us at Our Lady of Lourdes, Baulkham Hills South to be together here today and give thanks to God, to Our Lady of Lourdes and to all the wonderful parishioners and people, past and present, who have contributed to our journey and our story and to celebrate [our] Golden Jubilee,” Bernard told Catholic Outlook.
At a gala lunch at The Hills Club following Mass, Ken Sinclair, a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes since 1975, spoke fondly of the community that has evolved over 50 years.
“We are here today to celebrate 50 years since the formation of this parish, but also to celebrate the community where we worship and share our lives.
“From humble beginnings and the vision of our past parish priests and the toil of this community, we have a magnificent building. But behind the bricks and mortar, there lies the heart of the community and the friendships built up over years of working and worshiping together.
“The heart of the parish is the love and caring for, and of, the community, that so often goes on without any fanfare and with many oblivious as to what is happening.
“This is my parish and my church and has been for the last 44 years and this is where my heart lies,” Ken said.
Parish secretary Louise Ryall described the OLOL community as a tapestry.
“Each and everyone one of you here, whether you have lived a long life or still have a long life to live has been part of the wonderful weaving of this most beautiful tapestry of life and love at Our Lady of Lourdes. A tapestry that is so rich with colour and contrast, that when we stand back to view it, a profound story of a loving faith community has emerged.
“Each one of you who are present today, along with those who have gone before us, has been like an individual spool of colour, weaving your own tone and highlight into this unique place.
“It is a never-ending story, a story filled with a rich faith that projects the image and love of Christ to all who come to our special place,” she said.
Our Lady of Lourdes, which now forms the Parish of Baulkham Hills with St Michael’s, was created as a separate parish from St Monica’s North Parramatta, on 1 October 1969, with Fr John Kelly appointed the first parish priest.
The construction of Our Lady of Lourdes church began in mid-1978 and was opened and dedicated by Cardinal James Freeman, Archbishop of Sydney, on 3 August 1980.
Our Lady of Lourdes has had seven parish priests and administrators serve its parishioners over its 50 years. Fr Wim Hoekstra has been the parish priest of the Parish of Baulkham Hills since 2015.
Ahead of the anniversary celebrations, parishioners gave testimonies about their lives in the parish and the community that has developed over the 50 years.
Upon reflecting on the parish community, parishioner Bob East said that he hopes that “future generations know how the school and church evolved and it is up to them to ensure the continuation of the spirit of the parish of OLOL.”
Parishioner Pam Williams encouraged future generations that “no matter how many constraint that befell them in today’s society, to try and become a member of one of the parish’s spiritual activities or organisations, where they will find the loving warmth so encompassing that they will feel some benefits from that and their faith will strengthen.”
In her reflections, parishioner Maria Roche said that Our Lady of Lourdes became her “spiritual home”.
“The different Fathers that have ministered to us – they were always very kind and approachable. [OLOL] has always been like a spiritual home for me. It’s always been like a home for me, [it’s] very nurturing and very loving and the parishioners have all been very sweet and kind,” she said.
Parishioner Lyn Keane believes that Our Lady of Lourdes is a welcoming parish, and encouraged future generations to never give up on the Church.
“I came with a bit of a heavy heart when I first came here. I knew people here and they welcomed me with open arms, which was lovely.
“We’ve always had very good priests to lead us, and we generally look for things where we can encourage people and encourage parishioners to get to know each other and we consider ourselves a fairly welcoming parish.
“Never give up on the Church, no matter what. We need our Church, we need our Mass, we need each other and to always keep searching for Jesus and to know him better and to encourage each other,” she said.
Following the celebrations, Fr Wim was able to reflect on the significance of the anniversary.
“There was a really wonderful spirit around Our Lady of Lourdes Church on the weekend when we celebrated the 50th anniversary of its establishment as a parish.
“With Bishop Vincent’s presence and the presence of so many who had contributed over those 50 years, with all the hard work done by the organising committee, with a marvellous lunch at The Hills Club and all the effort and time taken, it was a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on how the Spirit of God has worked in this community and continues to be present in the Parish of Baulkham Hills.
“Praise and thanks to God through his Son for allowing us to celebrate this milestone,” Fr Wim told Catholic Outlook.
View images from the OLOL Golden Jubilee here or below.