Maida Vale Parish to celebrate 50th anniversary of St Francis of Assisi Church

22 Mar 2024

By Contributor

By Philomena Theseira

Maida Vale Parish St Francis of Assis Church in more recent times. Photo: Supplied.

Maida Vale Parish St Francis of Assisi Church will next month celebrate its 50th anniversary. Past and present members of the parish are invited to join in the celebrations which will take place on 7 April at 10am.

Opened 30 March 1974 by then Archbishop Launcelot Goody, the former church was no longer large enough to accommodate all the parishioners.

The Maida Vale Parish was originally started in an old packing shed in Maida Vale in 1956 thanks to the generosity of the Smith Family.

Fr Dario Brunetti was officially appointed as the Parish Priest of Maida Vale on 23 October 1956. 

After much fundraising by the supporters for the new parish, a block of land was purchased along with a house and garage for the sum of £3,750, on the current site in Lilian Road, and a new Chapel was built from an ex-Army Hut for less than £300. 

Archbishop Prendeville officially opened the new Chapel on the 11 August 1957. 

Maida Vale Parish St Francis of Assisi Church during its construction in 1973-1974. The impact of heavy rain, a scarcity of materials, and delays by builders meant the new Church was not completed until March 1974. Photo: Supplied.

Fr Brunetti’s work as the inaugural Parish Priest of Maida Vale gave the Parish a strong foundation for the future years. At the time of his departure there were 130 families, of many different ethnic origins, in the Parish community.

Fr Sean Bredin O.S.Cam (Order of St Camillus) was then appointed the Parish Priest from 1967 to 1974. 

Changes were taking place in the whole Catholic Church after Vatican II came into effect. 

In 1968, the inaugural Maida Vale Parish Pastoral Council was formed, and the first Planned Giving Program was also started, to help finance the building of a new Church. 

More involvement by the laity in the life of the Parish was welcomed, with the many committees of the Parish Pastoral Council undertaking fundraising, social, liturgical and catechetical activities.  A choir was formed, church cleaning rosters started, secretarial and sacristan groups were also well supported.

In 1972, Fr Bredin decided it was time to get on with the building a new “bricks and mortar” parish church, so he appointed a local parishioner, Lourens West who was an architect, to design a church. 

The building of the church commenced in March 1973.

The impact of heavy rain, a scarcity of materials, and delays by builders meant the new Church was not completed until March 1974. The church was big enough to now hold 350 people. 

Fr Bredin’s stewardship and devotion to the Parish is remembered with gratitude.

The new Church of St Francis of Assisi Maida Vale during the final stages of its construction. Opened 30 March 1974 by then Archbishop Launcelot Goody, the former church was no longer large enough to accommodate all the parishioners. Photo: Supplied.

Since the building of the church, many other priests have come along, and together with the Parish Community, have added their own mark to the Parish.

  • The Presbytery and Hall were built in 1985, under the direction of Fr Brendan Conway,  and opened in 1986.  The church was also finally carpeted.
  • In October 1986 Fr Parick Turner acquired the Chair and Lectern that Pope John Paul II used during his visit to Perth.  The Parish also celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary.  A booklet was produced by Betty Wilmott on the early history of the Parish.
  • In 1991 Matthew Gibney Catholic Primary School was built and started.
  • In 2000 Fr Steve Durkin recarpeted the church, and also obtained some stained glass windows from St Joseph’s Convent in Northam and had them made into the two side doors of the church.
  • Fr Steve also started having animals in his yard, like geese, ducks, sheep and goats in honour of St Francis of Assisi, along with his beloved dogs.
  • Fr Elver Delicano formed a new Parish Council and together built a Grotto and Memorial Wall for the Unborn, as well as a Rosary path, Memorial Garden and Columbarium.
  • The 60th Anniversary of the Parish was celebrated in 2016.  A new History of the Parish was compiled for the occasion.
  • Presently with Fr Joseph Rathnaraj and the Parish Community, a new Parish Centre is under construction, and should be finished in time for the Parish Feast Day in October this year.

The Parish continues to have many different groups working together to support the Parish Priest and Parish Community.