Joyous celebration at St Francis Church consecration

By Wendy Shaw 

The consecration of St Francis of Assisi Catholic Church at Riverside on September 11 was a beautiful day that was the result of years of prayer, collaboration, cooperation, and faith. 

That was the view of West Tamar Parish Priest Fr Martin Aye Ngwe at the solemn dedication of the refurbished church on the West Tamar Highway. 

The altar is anointed with the Oil of Chrism to make the altar a symbol of Christ as ‘the Anointed One.’ Photo: Rob Burnett

St Francis Church has been in use for Catholic worship at its new location in the former St David’s Anglican Church since it was blessed and opened in March.

This church is located near St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School. The original St Francis Church was in suburban Pomona Road. 

Archbishop Julian was the principal celebrant at the consecration, concelebrating with Fr Martin and newly-appointed West Tamar Parish Administrator Fr Fidelis Udousoro. 

Fr Martin Ngwe, who has served the parish for nine years, addresses those present at the Mass. Photo: Rob Burnett

“What a beautiful day. It is a great day for each one of us and for our parish,” a smiling Fr Martin told more than 100 parishioners and guests who filled the flower-festooned pews of the light-filled church.

“It is a very special day, and I must first of all thank God for He alone is the giver of all things. And I thank God for the gift of our faith as Catholic Christians. I also want to thank God for giving us shepherds in our lives, who guide us. So, Your Grace, thank you for your wisdom, for your love and support throughout this church project… 

“This church, and our celebration, has been beautiful today because many parishioners have given their time, their talents and their energy.” 

Archbishop Julian called for a renewal of desire to participate fully in the mysteries of our faith to be celebrated in the new church. Photo: Rob Burnett

Fr Martin, who has served the parish for about nine years, said St Francis Church was now a ‘serene place of worship’ thanks to the encouragement of Archbishop Julian and the long-term efforts of parishioners, the parish pastoral council, finance committee, project manager Andrew Goelst and builder Ross Clark.  

Archbishop Julian spoke of the shared joy felt at the consecration and dedication of the church and altar. 

During his homily, he said: “We are very conscious that this church, under the patronage of St David, has been a place of worship for our Anglican brethren for many years. It has been acquired by our church and today, we dedicate the church for Catholic worship.

Archbishop Julian rubs the Oil of Chrism on the walls of the church as part of the rite. Photo: Rob Burnett

 “As the Church is dedicated today, let each of us renew our desire to participate fully in the mysteries of our faith that will be celebrated here, especially the Holy Eucharist. Let us resolve to have this church as a house of prayer so we always enter it in silence and reverence, for here God does truly dwell among us…”

Parish Pastoral Council chairman Mark Murphy was overjoyed at the refurbished church which he described as ‘very prayerful and contemplative’. It was now ‘a beautiful and glorious Catholic Church – a church fitting for the paschal liturgy’.

“This was done with the future in mind – to support our current parishioners and St Anthony’s School, and the future parishioners,” Mr Murphy said. 

Archbishop Julian was principal celebrant at the Mass which was concelebrated by Fr Fidelis Udousoro and Fr Martin Aye Ngwe. Photo: Rob Burnett

Archbishop Julian said the next consecration in the archdiocese would take place at St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart, which is undergoing extensive renovations and repairs. 

Meanwhile, the blessing of the new Grotto of Our Lady of Grace took place in a beautiful twilight ceremony at St Francis Church three days before the consecration. Building work is under way on a new presbytery, at the rear of the church. 

To read Archbishop Julian’s homily in full, click here.

West Tamar Parish Pastoral Council members, from left: Jason Perry, Alex Lyall, Paul Bertoia, Chairman Mark Murphy, Parish Priest Fr Martin Aye Ngwe, Archbishop Julian, Parish Administrator Fr Fidelis Udousoro, Manu Thomas, Dan Bligh and Vera McMullen. Photo: Rob Burnett
West Tamar Parish Finance Committee, from left, Ros Kingston, Peter Davis, Parish Priest Fr Martin Aye Ngwe, Archbishop Julian, Parish Administrator Fr Fidelis Udousoro, Jocelyn Pane and Barbara Martin. Photo: Rob Burnett
Current Principal of St Anthony’s Catholic Primary, Jason Perry, Parish Priest Fr Martin Aye Ngwe, Archbishop Julian, Parish Administrator Fr Fidelis Udousoro and former St Anthony’s Principal Anita Cunningham.
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