Applecross Parish celebrates 70-year history and renews commitment to being a missionary community

04 Aug 2022

By Michelle Tan

4 priests cutting a cake
From Left to Right: Fr Philip Fleay, Fr Peter Whitely VG, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB and Fr Nelson Po cuts the cake at the celebrations. Photo: Michelle Tan.

St Benedict’s Church in Applecross celebrated its 70th anniversary with a week of festivities featuring special masses, morning teas, and a cocktail evening.

The final celebratory Mass at 9.30am on 31 July was celebrated by Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, alongside Father Nelson Po who has been the Parish Priest since 2016.

Former Parish priests Vicar General Fr Peter Whitely VG (2003 -2013), St Charles Seminary Rector Fr Phillip Fleay (2013-2016), CEWA Religious Education Director, Deacon Mark Powell (Former St Benedict’s School Principal for 7 years), and Father John Paul Maiko (current resident priest) were also present for the occasion.

The richness of the diverse and multi-cultural nature of the parish community was demonstrated in the displays of historical artifacts, photographs and expressed in the prayers of the faithful delivered in different languages.

The St Benedict’s choir and music ministry were also joined by Aquinas College Schola Cantorum with director Hugh Lydon. The choir was present in acknowledgment of their connections with the parish through choir scholarships. This collaboration was further testimony of the parish’s influence on the wider community.

The St Benedict’s choir and music ministry were joined by Aquinas College Schola Cantorum with director Hugh Lydon. Photo: Michelle Tan

At the conclusion of the Mass, Fr Nelson presented special plaques to the family members of foundation Parish Priest, Fr Albert Lynch, as well as the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions who first established the St Benedict’s School.

Family members of Fr Albert Lynch were presented with a special token for his contribution as the founding Parish Priest. Photo: Michelle Tan.

In his homily to an overflowing church, Archbishop Costelloe reflected on the gift of the parish and invited parishioners to “look back with gratitude, and to look around us and particularly to look forward with hope, not so much in ourselves, certainly that but much more basically, in God and God’s presence with us.”

Reflecting on the journey of the Plenary Council, Archbishop Costelloe shared that “We’re beginning to understand more deeply that the mission of the Church and the responsibility rests in the hands of all of us, not just the bishops because we’re all baptised.”

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB celebrated the 9.30am mass in celebration of St Benedict’s Church’s 70 anniversary. Photo: Michelle Tan.

“We’re all equally called to be at the service of the Lord and His people and the world in which we live. There is no special group in the church, that is the doers, while the rest of us are sitting back being the receivers.”

“How can you as the parish of Applecross, reach out to all those people who are part of your lives, who just don’t know the Lord, and haven’t been let into the secret of how wonderful it is to belong to the people of God, and know the Lord His love for us?”

Archbishop Costelloe also shared that it is important to question: “What does God want at this present moment?” We may sometimes be preoccupied by what we want and while “More often than not, it’s quite likely that what we want and what God wants, could well be the same thing. But to presume that that’s the case, without asking the question and delving into the question would be a big mistake.”

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe mingles with Parishioners after Mass. Photo: Michelle Tan.

“I think Pope Francis summed all of this up beautifully that the Church is like a field hospital, in the middle of a battle. When a wounded soldier is carried into the field hospital, the doctors and the nurses begin by healing his wounds and everything else can come later. First, heal the wounds. And if you want to heal the wounds, you’ll have to warm people’s hearts. This is our mission today.”

“That has been the vocation of St Benedict’s for the last 70 years. And an anniversary like today is a perfect opportunity to recommit to this vocation and to ask yourselves as a parish community, how can we even better than we are already, be a community that heals the broken wounds of others? How can our Church be the place where people can come and find that they leave, not with hardened hearts, but with warmed-up hearts, because they’ve encountered the Lord in this community of His disciples?”

“Let us look back with gratitude to the ways in which this has been achieved over so many years and look forward with hope to discovering even more ways in which you can be this community of disciples that the Lord is calling you to be.”

  • From Left to Right: Fr Nelson Po, Sr Shelley Barlow RNDM, Sr Marie Therese Ryder RNDM, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Sr Veronica Martin and Fr Peter Whitely stands in front of the St Benedict’s School historical display. Photo: Michelle Tan.
  • Fr Peter Whitely VG stands next to the board that displays the parish’s history and photos of the first baptism he celebrated in the new parish building. Photo: Michelle Tan.
  • Many people joined the 70th anniversary Mass celebrations on 5 August 2022. Photo: Michelle Tan.