History of St Mark’s Church
St Mark’s Parish was initially established in 1956 as the “Parish of the Divine Word”. Divine Word Missionary priest, Fr Aloysius Kasprus was the first Parish Priest and he occupied a small concrete home opposite the current Church. This house was also the Mass Centre and Parish Office. In the first years of the parish there was such a shortage of space that during the celebration of Mass some parishioners would be sitting on the edge of Fr Kasprus’ bath while others outside looked in through the windows. The first baptism took place in the humble building on the 3rd February, 1957 when David Anthony Pembroke was welcomed into the Church. Mrs Betty Pembroke, David’s mother, has been a faithful parishioner and currently resides in the St Mark’s Church Trocaire Units.
With volunteer labour land was cleared and two former wooden army huts on concrete stumps were joined to form the first Church of the “Parish of the Divine Word”. This first Catholic Church in Inala was blessed and opened in 1958 by Archbishop Duhig. The initial seating for parishioners was old school desks and in heavy rain the roof leaked, umbrellas being needed to protect the choir.
In May 1961, Fr Guilford Lyons commenced his duties as Parish Priest and the former “Parish of the Divine Word” was incorporated into the Archdiocese of Brisbane and renamed “St Mark’s”. Fr Lyons and the Archdiocese continued the original mission of the Divine Word order and land clearing began in order to construct a Catholic School. Volunteer parishioners and priests used two old tractors and hand cleared with axes to turn scrub into the present school site. At times stubborn tree stumps were removed with the assistance of gelignite.
The school commenced classes on the 29th January, 1963 with Grades 1-3 and a total enrolment of 150 pupils. The children were taught by the Sisters of Mercy who were ferried to and from their Goodna convent by the priests. The convent was completed for the Sisters of Mercy on 24th January 1964. This building is today the parish office and presbytery. By 1969 our current church was completed. It was designed by the architectural firm “Cullen, Fagg, Hargraves, Mooney and Cullen” and received a citation in 1970 acknowledging its meritorious design.
The mid fifties to 1970 were the main period of foundation and construction of the Inala parish under the guidance of both the Divine Word missionaries and the Brisbane Archdiocese. Parish life then developed utilizing the infrastructure which had been laid down by pioneering priests, hard working Sisters of Mercy and loyal parishioners of the earlier decades. There were youth group activities, folk Masses, drama groups and debutante balls. The St Mark’s Rugby League clubhouse (now the Vietnamese Community Centre) was used for bingo and annual Christmas luncheons put on by the St Vincent de Paul Conference. By 1981 the parish was 25 years old and the Silver Jubilee was celebrated with a Jubilee dinner in the parish hall.
On 18th March, 1989 the Ngutana Lui Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural centre was opened within the parish grounds. The centre’s activities and facilities are used by the church, school and community groups from all over Brisbane and it is an important part of the Archdiocesan Murri Ministry.
From 1991 – 2004 Fr Frank Moynihan was appointed Parish Priest and established a well earned reputation as a hard working and deeply caring priest. He was ably assisted by his Pastoral Associate Sr Desley Robinson RSM who worked in the parish from 1989 to 2007.
Under the leadership of Fr Frank Moynihan the stained glass louvres, the statues of St Peter and St Paul, the addition of the meeting room and toilets and the improvement of the Marian shrine were all additions to our church. In 1998 the nine home units of Trocaire were constructed on parish land as a joint venture between the church and the housing department. The tenth unit was constructed in 2004.
The parish has a further remembrance of Fr Frank – in the school grounds near the office is a statue of the Christ Child which was built using parishioners donations to fulfil Fr Frank’s wish that the children of St Mark’s school have a statue of the Christ Child. Fr Frank Moynihan also bequeathed a sum of money to the parish which was used to construct a columbarium – a wall where the cremated remains of the faithful may be placed.
From 2005 to 2011 Fr Vudinh Tuong was the parish priest. Fr Tuong was instrumental in bringing the many Vietnamese parishioners into the life of the parish. The parish flourished under his leadership and many of the current parish groups were formed with his support and guidance.
In 2011 the Archdiocese asked the Divine Word Missionaries to provide the priests for our parish. Fr Gerard Mulholland SVD and Fr Ho Tran SVD were our priests from May 2011 to October 2013. Sadly Fr Gerard passed away on 26th November, 2014 and the parish was honoured to be chosen as the place of his funeral Mass. The parish hosted 35 priests and 2 Bishops, and around 600 parishioners attended the funeral.
The parish in its past and present has a strong connection to the Divine Word Missionaries. Two of St Mark’s parishioners, Fr John Manh Le SVD and Fr Phuong Vu SVD joined the order as Missionary priests and now serve in Brazil and Australia.
We currently have over 2000 parishioners who attend Mass at St Mark’s each week and we are blessed with many young people and many different cultural groups. We look confidently to the future.