Special church a place of joy, solace, comfort and support

By Wendy Shaw

Fifty years of golden memories were revived as Our Lady of Lourdes Church at Devonport marked its half century.

Archbishop Julian celebrated a Jubilee Mass on Saturday 5 November, followed by supper in the parish hall.

It was a weekend of milestones, as parish priest Fr Jaison Kuzhiyil noted, with Our Lady of Lourdes Church marking 50 years on the same weekend that Holy Cross Church, Sheffield, had its centenary.

“Our Lady of Lourdes Church [is] celebrating 50 years of spiritual nourishment for the people of this area and the people who are ferried by the Spirit from across Bass Strait,” Fr Jaison wrote in the parish newsletter.

“May these celebrations be an opportunity for us to remember all those pastors, nuns and laity who have selflessly worked hard to establish these Mass centres, building communities. We thank God for their generosity and love towards God and His people.”

Marlene Heazlewood (nee Bramich), of Devonport, is active in parish ministries, including as a special minister, collection counting, and in the St Vincent de Paul Society. She said that Our Lady of Lourdes Church had played an important part in the faith lives of her family.

Past students of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School at Devonport, and long-time parishioners are, from left, Merve Tippett, Mary Stubbs (nee Sullivan), Marlene Heazlewood (nee Bramich) and Tony Muir cutting the church’s 50th anniversary celebration cake with Archbishop Julian (centre, back).

“It has been a place to gather and celebrate not only the Eucharist, but baptisms, weddings and funerals,” Mrs Heazlewood said.

“Fifty years ago, I carried my three-month-old baby girl, Jane, out of the ‘new’ church, after it was blessed by Archbishop Guilford Young.

“He blessed her and said, ‘She’ll be a mother Superior one day!’ Well that didn’t happen, but she continues to worship with me every week at Our Lady of Lourdes.

“One of the most moving celebrations I attended at OLOL was the [ordination to the] Diaconate of seminarian John Roach in 1990.”

Mrs Heazlewood said the church was a place of joy for her family – the setting for the wedding of her daughter Jane to Jason Heatley nearly 23 years ago, the baptism of her grandson Joseph a few years later; and where her son Paul and grandson Joseph had been altar servers – and a place of solace, comfort and support at the funerals of her parents.

Musician Gerry Peters is the chair of the parish pastoral council. He remembers the church from its earliest days.

“I was a child at the time and I remember sitting in our new church a little perplexed at the modern sparseness of the interior and how much it differed from our traditionally ornate previous church building,” Mr Peters said.

“Over time I grew to feel quite at home in this environment. On reflection, I think the sparseness of the decor allowed one to focus on the altar and tabernacle even more than before.

“My fondest memories of our church and Mersey-Leven Parish community have been our Antioch Masses every Wednesday, our Christmas celebrations, and of course the Triduum celebrations each year at Easter.”

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