Part Two: Building up the Body of Christ – one brick at a time

By Mary Brazell, 19 May 2020
Older parishioners celebrate at the 40th anniversary of the dedication of St Michael's Church, Blacktown South in December 2019. Image: Supplied.


St Michael’s, part of Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown, celebrated the 40th anniversary of the dedication of its church on 23 December 2019 with parishioners young and old.

Part Two: Building up the Body of Christ – one brick at a time can be found below.

Part One: Building up the Body of Christ – one brick at a time was published yesterday.

To these parishioners, St Michael’s is a special place, as they all lived in close proximity to the parish, and have fond memories of baptisms, marriages and children attending the local Catholic schools.

“This church was built in the terms of architects, builders and engineers. The architects, engineers and builders of this church were not the so-called architects, builders and engineers of any church, but the whole of the Catholic community of St Michael’s,” John McGettigan said during the opening ceremony in 1979.

“Everyone has contributed in many ways, both physically and spiritually to the construction of the building. This building represents not only the faith of the community within our church but also the faith in the proceedings and the future of the church in Blacktown and throughout the world.“

Ray said, “St Michael’s, to us, feels more like a parish in a country setting more than an urban setting. There’s a lot of great memories from it – we used to celebrate Christmas together, we used to have parish picnics on the church grounds, family groups outings, dinners, dance nights – more of a country feeling.”

Photographs of the first three parish priests of St Michael’s – Fr Sidney Moseley, Fr Kevin Dadswell and Fr Robert Riedling. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

The parish has been served by several priests in its time, with each priest bringing his own style of ministry and service to the community. Fr Moseley served the community until 1988, when Fr Kevin Dadswell took over until his death in 2009.

“The greatest happiness that I had at St Michael’s was with our second parish priest, the knockabout Fr Kevin Dadswell,” parishioner Patricia Batistic said.

St Michael’s Church, Blacktown South, parishioner Patricia Batistic. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

“He was a very egalitarian priest, he wasn’t hierarchical in any way, he wasn’t like that. He would give a homily which would only be about one paragraph long and the message was there. I met Kev [Fr Kevin] when I was in the Patrician Club in Parramatta, a 21-and-over club, and I took to him straight away.

“We all loved Fr Kevin Dadswell. They would be the happiest times there because you’d be really wanting to go to church, there was no way I’d go to any other Masses but the ones at St Michael’s. [Fr Kevin] was like one of us.”

Fr Robert Riedling took over as parish priest in 2009 for three years, before his departure to Padre Pio Parish, Glenmore Park.

Patricia added, “another happy time for me was our third parish priest Fr Robert. He galvanised the people, he took over from Fr Kevin, and he was our parish priest. It was a progression of Fr Moseley being the pioneering parish priest, building on the church, and Fr Rob continuing the growth and the spiritual community that was very much alive at St Michael’s.”

On 18 September 2014, the third Bishop of Parramatta, Anthony Fisher OP, decreed the merger of the parish of St Patrick’s, Blacktown and the parish of St Michael’s, Blacktown South, into a new parish named Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown. From this time, Fr Peter Confeggi became the parish priest and administrator of both churches until his retirement in 2018.

St Michael’s Church, Blacktown South, parishioners (L-R) Colin Maxwell, Vicky Sammut, Ray and Rita Francica, Ian Faulkner and Carmen Borg. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

An emotional Carmen Borg explained the importance of St Michael’s to her. “St Michael’s, to me, is everything. I love St Michael’s – the church, the presbytery and the works that go with it. The presbytery was my home, I looked after it more than my own home.

“Fr Kevin treated everybody like family and he loved everybody and St Michael’s became a home for everybody.”

Looking ahead to the future, the parishioners hope that the same energy and spirit will remain at the church.

“The message I would like to leave for future generations is to be faithful to St Michael’s and volunteer, because the present volunteers are getting older, and we need younger people to step up and take over because they are the future of the church,” Patricia said.

Ken said, “Margaret and I have enjoyed our time here over the years, we look back over the years and we can say it’s been very good here at St Michael’s.”

Parishioner Ian Faulkner added, “the church is not the buildings, but it’s the individual people working together and the church will always flourish as long as there are small groups of people working together within the church structure.”

A dedication plaque on the outside of St Michael’s Church, Blacktown South. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


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