God is great and has done marvelous deeds over the long history of this parish, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has recently told Palmyra parishioners.
Speaking at the Mass to celebrate the 100 anniversary of the parish, Sunday 23 July, Archbishop Costelloe explained that all current members or friends of the parish, or past parishioners, know that the parish community of today is the inheritor of the extraordinary commitment of the clergy, the religious and the laity who over one hundred years have built the community of faith.
“You would also understand that it is the task of today’s parish community to keep this faith alive so that future generations will receive what we faithfully pass on to them with gratitude,“ Archbishop Costelloe explained.
“This is why Pope Francis would ask us not only to look back in gratitude, which we do in a special way today, but also to live the present moment, with all its challenges, with passion and remain open and hopeful as the future unfolds,” he said.
Highlights of the past 100 years were displayed in a special video created for the anniversary by parishioner Harry Neesham, highlighting how the the suburb of Palmyra was established in 1912, when Mr J Charles bought and subdivided 425 acres and laid out a township.
Families moved into the area over the next 10 years and in 1923, then Perth Bishop Matthew Gibney determined there should be a parish established.
This parish was to be serviced from North Fremantle and would extend from Petra Street to Canning Bridge and south to Spearwood. The Oblate Fathers purchased two acres on the corner of Foss Street and Hammad Street, intending to expand but subsequently agreed to sell their land to the Parish for what it cost – £150.
Father Humphrey Kearin was appointed Parish Priest and upon receiving financial guarantees from 40 families the parish set out to build a hall. The hall was to serve as both school and church and the naming would be the privilege of the person donating the altar.
Mr John Blencowe and his wife donated the altar and named the parish St Gerard’s. The hall was opened in April 1925 and so began the parish journey.
In the early 1950’s the parish priest at the time, Fr John Lynch, felt it was important to create a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima in the community which was completed in 1953.
In 1952, the school’s name was changed from St Gerard’s to Our Lady of Fatima. The school crest was created by one of the sisters.
Archbishop Costelloe continued by saying that the world and the Church of 2023 are very different from the world and the Church of 1923.
“The first community which formed this parish so long ago could not have imagined what lay ahead,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“In a world of conflict, uncertainty and great suffering, when evil seemed to be so powerful, all people could do was look to the Lord and pray, as the psalm does, You, God of mercy and compassion, slow to anger and rich in love and truth, turn and take pity on us“
“In spite of the dramatic changes which have taken place over the last 100 years, this prayer is as relevant today as it ever was.”
“Today we pray in remembrance and gratitude for all those who for the last 100 years strived to be faithful to this ideal here in this parish.”
“We acknowledge with admiration and with gratitude all those who work together in our own time to give expression to this ideal of faithful discipleship.”
“And we entrust to the Lord with hope and confidence all those who will come here in the future to be a part of this ongoing story of fidelity, giving expression to the hope expressed by the Lord Jesus himself at the Last Supper, ‘By this will everyone know that you are my disciples; that you love one another as I have loved you,’” Archbishop Costelloe concluded.