Category: Archdiocese of Brisbane

I haven’t posted on this blog for a long time now, but I feel moved to share these thoughts following a Memorandum that was posted recently on the noticeboard at Villa Maria, Fortitude Valley.   The memo is dated 27 December 2017, and a copy was passed to me yesterday.   It is addressed to the “Residents, Relatives, staff, VM community friends” and as the first paragraph says, “including those who have been regular visitors to our resident chapel.”  The memo is intended for many of us, therefore, and deserves to be seen by all concerned.  As the memo will probably be counted as “community communication/consultation” at some point, this is further reason to see that it is shared with all concerned.

I share these thoughts as a concerned Catholic, and in support of the lay faithful who are upset at the proposed building works to be undertaken in the original chapel at Villa Maria.   Villa Maria is a spiritual gem of our Archdiocese.  As someone who was “born and bred” in Brisbane, I – along with many others – feel a strong connection to this place of prayer.  Father Julian Tenison Woods co-founded the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in 1874, and the Sisters have been in Spring Hill since 1881 and on the present site since 1900.  The older building, which contains the chapel which is the subject of this post, was constructed from 1927 (

It is noteworthy that Catholic Healthcare explicitly states in the memorandum that it has abandoned the plans for a café adjacent to the chapel.  This is good news.  However, what remains perplexing, as per the drawing, is that approximately one third of the people’s nave of the chapel is still to be turned into a “gathering space” and to be partitioned off from the remains of the chapel by glass screens.  What is also not mentioned, and what exists in the documentation for building approvals (as seen already on the internet), is the demolition work to be undertaken to turn the choir loft into a dining room.

The burning question in this debacle is this: why is it not possible to create the additional dining and lounge facilities for the residents in some other part of the building, or in the courtyard spaces around the chapel?  At least one other Brisbane architect has spent many hours to work out how all the extra facilities for the residents can be incorporated, without having to do anything at all to the chapel.  Why are these suggestions not being taken on board?  Why is one of our historic and beautiful sacred spaces going to be permanently disfigured by relegating parts of it to secular use, when there is absolutely no need to do so?  Catholic Healthcare plan to increase the number of residents at Villa Maria, so surely more space should be needed in the chapel, not less.

Catholic Healthcare (, the organisation that has the lease on the old building at Villa Maria, is owned – as I understand it – by the Catholic Bishops of Lismore, Wollongong, Bathurst, and Parramatta, together with the Sisters of Saint Joseph.  A win-win solution exists to this situation, with the addition of extra facilities for the residents, and also the preservation of the old chapel, retaining its unique character as it presently is, as a sacred space which has been in continuous use as a place of worship and prayer for close to a century, and remains so to this day.  Please help save this historic and special place, as it is, for the present and for the future.

We implore the above-named bishops to intervene, and to help steer the situation to a happy conclusion for all involved.

Other updates on Villa Maria have been seen here:

Villa Maria Memo 2017 12 27 p.1







Villa Maria Memo 2017 12 27 p.2


The funeral Mass for Father Gregory Jordan SJ will be able to be viewed at this link:

The Mass will take place at 11:00am at Saint Ignatius’ Church, Toowong, on Thursday 30th July, 2015.

I have been informed that there will be a celebration of Choral Vespers (Evening Prayer) sung in Latin at 3:00pm every Sunday, starting this weekend in Saint Stephen’s Chapel, Brisbane, and from the following weekend in the Cathedral itself (with a couple of exceptions). The service will employ plainsong and polyphony. The staff of the Cathedral see this as an opportunity for parishioners in the wider Archdiocese to share a service in the cathedral outside their usual parish commitments. It’s also a more contemplative service, where the faithful can think on the psalms and canticle as they unfold as sung by the choir. It is hoped that Sunday Vespers will become a permanent fixture in the Cathedral’s worship schedule.


The Family Mass sponsored by Catholic homeschooling families in Brisbane resumes this coming Saturday, 1 February 2014.  Mass is at 9am at Immaculate Conception Church, Halle Street, Everton Park.  The Sacrament of Penance is available following the Mass.  Morning tea also follows Mass.

The gathering on Saturday will welcome in the new school year and be a wonderful opportunity to connect with other Catholic families.
The dates for the Masses in 2014 are the First Saturday of each month from February to December, except for October when no Mass will be held.
All are welcome.
tony Girvan

Photography lesson: A group of Rwandan children get an impromptu lesson on photography from Fr Tony Girvan during a wildlife photography trip to Africa.

We have just started announcing at the Masses this Sunday that the new Parish Priest for Saint Bernardine’s from January 2014 will be Fr Anthony Girvan, who is presently the Parish Priest of Saint Patrick’s, Beenleigh.

We look forward to welcoming Fr Tony in the new year.

We have an App for that

The Archdiocese of Brisbane now has an app!

Download it to check out some of its great features, including finding Masses and times for Confessions near you.

More info on the app can be found on the Archdiocesan website, here.

oratory website screenshot 1The Brisbane Oratory in Formation now has a revamped website.

It provides information about Oratories in general, and about the Brisbane Oratory in Formation project.

In the latest news section, there are some photos of the Brisbane Oratory’s seminarian, Shawn Murphy, being clothed in the habit of the Toronto Oratory, where he is formally beginning his formation in Oratorian life.  (There are more photos from this event here).

oratory shawn receiving habit 1

The Brisbane Oratory in Formation’s seminarian, Shawn Murphy, receiving the habit of the Toronto Oratory

There is also a link to yesterday’s article in The Australian newspaper on the Brisbane Oratory.

Please keep this project in your prayers.  It’s a great development for our Archdiocese, and its wonderful that its happening here.

You might also consider making a financial offering, which at this stage will especially assist in the training of the Brisbane Oratory in Formation’s seminarian.

prayer for syriaIn Brisbane, Archbishop Coleridge has asked us to fulfil the Holy Father’s request for prayer and fasting for peace in Syria by observing a week of prayer from the 8th to the 15th of September 2013, and to observe a day of fasting on Friday 13 September (see here).

You may find the following document useful for your daily prayers over the next week:

Prayer for Syria

our lady of fatima october 2013

As has been reported widely, Pope Francis has called Catholics and all people of good will to pray and fast this coming Saturday 7 September 2013 for peace in Syria (, and here).

This coming Saturday we will live together a special day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world. I renew the invitation to the whole Church to live this day intensely, and even now I express gratitude to the other Christian brethren, to the brethren of other religions and to the men and women of good will who desire to join in this initiative, in places and ways of their own. I especially urge the Roman faithful and pilgrims to participate in the prayer vigil here in St. Peter’s Square at 19.00, in order to ask the Lord for the great gift of peace. May a powerful cry for peace go up from every land!  (Pope Francis)

Archbishop Mark Coleridge wrote to the clergy of the Brisbane archdiocese yesterday giving directions about how we might fulfil the Holy Father’s request.  Archbishop Coleridge wrote:

The Holy Father has asked the universal Church to join him in a time of prayer and fasting, imploring God for the gift of peace in Syria.  He has proposed as the Day of Prayer and Fasting Saturday, 7 September, which in this country however has a number of complications.  I would ask that special prayers of intercession for peace in Syria be made at all Masses on this Sunday and that in the Archdiocese of Brisbane we make the week of 8-15 September a time of special prayer for Syria, with a day of fasting on Friday, 13 September.  Let us beseech God with one heart and voice to do what human beings cannot do  (Archbishop Mark Coleridge, Brisbane).

In Brisbane (and for everyone else in our time-zone), Sunday morning 4am to 9am will coincide with Pope Francis’ Prayer Vigil at Saint Peter’s with the faithful of the diocese of Rome.  Many of us will be at Mass during that time (or very close to), so we can actively unite our prayers in a special way with the Holy Father during that time.   Following the Archbishop’s direction, we will then continue praying for Syria in a heightened way all through the coming week, and he asks us to observe a day of fasting next Friday, 13 September.

Of course, all of us are free to pray and fast any time we choose, and this is a good thing to do, not just when asked to do so!

mary help of christiansLet us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!  (Pope Francis)