Doubleview Parish community called to walk together in the way of the Lord

18 May 2023

By Jamie O'Brien

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB celebrated the 50th anniversary Mass of Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Doubleview, Sunday 14 May. Video: Michelle Tan

The invitation is there for each of us, in the depths of our heart, to recommit ourselves to being people of communion and unity in our life within the Church, and never people of dissension and disunity, Perth Archbishop Costelloe has said.

Speaking at the 50th anniversary of the Our Lady of the Rosary Church of Doubleview Parish, Sunday 14 May, Archbishop Costelloe was joined by Vicar General, the Very Rev Fr Peter Whitely VG, St Mary’s Cathedral Dean and former parishioner, the Very Rev Dr Sean Fernandez, Parish Priest Fr Peter Hoang OP and Assistant Fr Tom Cassidy OP, Dominican Prior Provincial Fr Dominic Murphy OP, former Parish Priest Fr Peter Toan Nguyen OP and Fr Vincent Conroy.

More than 450 parishioners past and present came together for the 10am Mass, including many Dominican Sisters, led by Congregational Leader Sr Mary Ryan OP,  who were present in the early days of the formation of the parish.

The Doubleview Parish community came together Sunday 14 May for the 50th anniversary of Our Lady of the Rosary Church for a anniversary Mass celebrated by Archbishop Costelloe who was joined by Vicar General, the Very Rev Fr Peter Whitely VG, St Mary’s Cathedral Dean and former parishioner, the Very Rev Dr Sean Fernandez, Parish Priest Fr Peter Hoang OP and Assistant Fr Tom Cassidy OP, Dominican Prior Provincial Fr Dominic Murphy OP, former Parish Priest Fr Peter Toan Nguyen OP and Fr Vincent Conroy. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

Continuing his homily, Archbishop Costelloe highlighted that this call to unity is at the heart of the mission which Pope Francis has identified as the urgent task for the Church today.

“As some of you would know, the Pope has convened a Synod of Bishops, a gathering of representatives of the world’s bishops, which will commence in Rome in late September,” Archbishop Costelloe explained.

“One of the unique elements of this Synod will be that, unlike other synods in the past, there will be lay people, religious and clergy who will also be present and who, along with the bishops, will have the right to vote.

“In this way the Pope is wanting to remind all of us that, because of our baptism, we all share responsibility for the Church’s fidelity to the Lord.

Archbishop Costelloe highlighted that the to unity is at the heart of the mission which Pope Francis has identified as the urgent task for the Church today. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

“It is true that the bishops, as successors of the apostles, have a particular role to play in this, but they exercise that role from within the Church, not outside it and certainly not above it – which means, of course, from within the community, not outside it, and certainly not above it.

“We are called to walk together, and not in separate groups, in the way of the Lord,” he said.

Parish Priest Fr Peter Hoang said the parish is a vibrant community who are always willing to work together in an effort to support each and every person.

Doubleview parishioners carry the offeratory gifts during the 50th anniversary Mass of Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Doubleview Church, Sunday 14 May. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

“I pray the parish will continue to grow – in faith, looking to Jesus Christ and His mother, understanding the wonderful plan He has for their lives,” Fr Peter said.

“I am most grateful to be present for this momentous occasion,” he continued.

“We must encourage, with love and mercy, the next generation, who will care for the parish for the next 50 years and beyond,” he said.

A biographical account of the building’s creator and story of the Church’s construction and completion was also developed for the anniversary, entitled Stone of Eternity by local writer and photographer Richard Goodwin, which was launched Saturday 13 May.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the Our Lady of the Rosary Foundation, to support its mission of ensuring the ongoing preservation of the building.

The book was displayed on the sanctuary for the anniversary Mass, together with several of the original tools used during the construction in the 1970’s.

A biographical account of the building’s creator and story of the Church’s construction and completion was also developed for the anniversary, entitled Stone of Eternity by local writer and photographer Richard Goodwin, which was launched Saturday 13 May. The book was displayed on the sanctuary for the anniversary Mass, together with several of the original tools used during the construction in the 1970’s. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

Following the establishment of a primary school run by the Dominican Sisters, the Parish was founded in 1959 by the Dominicans.

In October 1968, 48-year-old Irishman Fr Bonaventure Leahy OP was assigned to the parish, having trained in building studies and architecture in Dublin just before World War II.

Despite having no experience or direct knowledge of Western Australia, Fr Leahy took to the task with inspiration and dedication.

For the next year and a half, he studied the bush block that was designated as the church site, toured the state inspecting other churches such as Monsignor Hawes’ structures in the Mid-West and built a model of his vision for Doubleview.

The Perth Archbishop Launcelot Goody, an attendee of the Second Vatican Council, approved Fr Leahy’s innovative plans that captured the new layout required by the liturgical reforms of the time.

Along the way Fr Leahy had been introduced to Toodyay stone, a unique WA quartzite rock revered by architects in this era. He made it his building material of choice.

He partnered with a firm of Italian stonemasons, one of whom also held the quarrying licence for the Toodyay blocks.

Parish Pastoral Council Chair Helen Murray said even though the Church is such a large space, when alone in the Church, the building surrounds a person with peace. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

Fr Leahy oversaw all facets of the construction, spending day and night on the building site and applying meticulous scrutiny to the detail of every component of the project.

Unfortunately, Fr Leahy returned to Ireland one year before the Church building was completed, suffering poor health.  Fortunately, understudy Fr Niall McDermott OP supervised the final stages.

Among the finishing touches were the design of the tabernacle, altar and baptismal font, the installation of a pipe organ using pieces from an old Baptist church in Northbridge and a theatre in Fremantle, a grand stained-glass window behind the choir loft and a 19th century bell brought to Australia by pioneering Benedictine monks.

After more than 70 contractors, suppliers and volunteers had contributed to the effort over three years, the church was blessed and opened by Archbishop Goody on the afternoon of 13 May 1973 in the presence of 800 parishioners and guests.

Speaking at the conclusion of the 50th anniversary Mass, Parish Pastoral Council Chair Helen Murray said even though the Church is such a large space, when alone in the Church, the building surrounds a person with peace.

“In many ways, those quiet times can make it easier to sense Fr Leahy’s vision, to build a church that is easy for people to pray in and brings them closer to God,” Ms Murray said.

Archbishop Costelloe with Doubleview parishioner Marian Fergusson, aged 99 with her daughters Pauline Lynch and Camille Billing. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

Ms Murray also invited the congregation to look closely at the walls of the church and note the colours of the Toodyay stone.

“See the miracle of design and construction that has created graceful curves from solid blocks, through the careful placement of every piece.

“Look at the two massive pillars and how they support the roof.

“There are so many other elements that also come together to make this beautiful church whole.

“It was brought into existence by divine inspiration, determination, dedication, hard work and faith. We are privileged to be the current custodians,” she concluded.