60 Years of St.Mark’s Parish
St Mark’s Parish, Inala, celebrated its 60th anniversary this month with a special Multicultural Mass, followed by a day of entertainment, food stalls, fun and fellowship.
The parish was established in 1956 as the Parish of the Divine Word, with Fr Aloysius Kasprus SVD as Parish Priest. Over the 60 years, the parish has been in the care of both the Divine Word Missionaries and the Archdiocese, taking the name St Mark’s in 1961.
Current Parish Priest, Fr Stephen Pilly SVD, says a powerpoint presentation on the history of the parish was one of the highlights of the anniversary celebration, which took place on Sunday, September 11.
He says that when Fr Aloysius was appointed to establish the parish in 1956, he occupied a small concrete house opposite the current Church.
“The house also served as the Mass Centre and the Parish Office,” he says.
“The parish history records that 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!”
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, which was opened and blessed by Archbishop Duhig in 1958.
Parishioners sat at old school desks and in heavy rain the roof leaked, forcing umbrellas to be used to protect the choir.
Fr Guilford Lyons was appointed Parish Priest in May 1961and the parish was incorporated into the Archdiocese of Brisbane and renamed St Mark’s. A school was built and opened in January 1963, under the care of the Sisters of Mercy.
The current Church was completed in 1969, winning a citation for design, and in March 1989, the Ngutana Lui Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural centre was opened within the parish grounds. The centre is used by the Church, school and community groups from all over Brisbane and is an important part of the Archdiocesan Murri Ministry.
Fr Stephen says that under the leadership of Fr Frank Moynihan and pastoral assistant Sr Desley Robinson RSM, the parish continued to flourish and grow, including with the building of 10 aged care home units.
From 2005 to 2011, Fr Vudinh Tuong was parish priest and many Vietnamese parishioners were drawn to the life of the parish.
The Divine Word Missionaries returned to the parish in 2011, when the Archdiocese asked the SVD to provide priests for St Mark’s, with Fr Gerard Mulholland SVD and Fr Ho Tran SVD taking up residence. Two parishioners from St Mark’s – Fr John Manh Le SVD and Fr Phuong Vu SVD, have also joined the SVD and are serving now in Brazil and Australia.
Fr Stephen says the 60th anniversary celebrations looked back on the history of the parish, while also affirming the parish today, which is blessed with many young people and many different cultural groups.
“We designed anniversary shirts, which many parishioners have bought,” says Fr Stephen. “And we have also given these shirts as gifts to all visitors and guests of the parish during our Jubilee Year. Many of the parishioners wore the Jubilee Anniversary polo shirt on the day, which looked great.”
The Principal Celebrant for the anniversary Mass was Bishop Brian Heenan, the retired Bishop of Rockhampton, who was Assistant Priest at St Mark’s from 1972 to 1975.
Guests included the Federal Member for Oxley, Milton Dick, the Sisters of Mercy, the Anglican Ministers from Inala, former school principals and school staff and former parishioners. The Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk sent a message of congratulations.
“The Mass really showcased the multicultural nature of our parish,” says Fr Stephen. “It included readings, hymns and prayers in languages including Vietnamese, Tagalog, Samaoan, Tongan, Sinhalese, Portuguese and Rwandan.
“After Mass, we cut the Jubilee cake and enjoyed entertainment from our very talented youth from the Samoan, Tongan, Vietnamese, Indonesian and African communities. There were also food stalls prepared by our multicultural communities within the parish, a café, ice block stall, and a sausage sizzle.”
Fr Stephen says the celebration summed up the reality of the parish mission statement: “As a Catholic Christian community living in an area of cultural diversity, we embrace the word of God, celebrate the Eucharist and utilise the gifts of our community in caring for all.”
“These are not just words,” he says. “They describe the reality of the parish. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and it is the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass that brings us together as one.
“We also want to reach out to the poor, refugees, vulnerable and disturbed people, bringing unity in diversity and the love of Christ to all.
“The doors of St Mark’s are open to all and for our Jubilee celebration we had non-Catholics and non-Christians participating. Our parish embraces all.
“God is good. All the time. God is good.”