Thank you, Father, for this gift

12 Jan 2008

By The Record

Miracles come in various forms, but when Archbishop Barry Hickey dedicated Myaree parish’s new Pater Noster Church on December 23, he knew this was ne the locals will be talking about for quite some time.

As parish priest Fr Larry Reitmeyer said, the fact that the church exists is a credit to the openness and foresight of the Archbishop to support the people who wanted a new church.

Powell, an acolyte at Myaree for 20 years, told The Record it was widely held
that as soon as long-serving Fr Laurence Formosa died, the parish consisting of
“mostly older people” would go as well, because then-Archbishop of Perth
William Foley would not be able to source a priest to replace him.

used to talk about how there won’t be a church if Fr Formosa goes – we’ll have
to pack up and go somewhere else,” recalled Mr Powell.

when Fr Formosa did die in the early 1990s Myaree parish did not also die.

was in part thanks to an enthusiastic Pallotine Father Michael Gitner, who held
the fort until a permanent replacement came in the form of Fr Reitmeyer, who
Archbishop Hickey had personally ordained in 1989 over in New Mexico, USA for
the diocese of Geraldton when still Bishop of Geraldton.

Fr Reitmeyer arrived in February 2002, the parish council brought the issue up
again, and the parish priest approached his old friend, Archbishop Hickey, who
was receptive to the idea, despite opposition from some quarters who believed
that the parish should have been closed years ago.

Reitmeyer says the influence of Archbishop in getting Pater Noster built cannot
be overstressed.

was very much a shepherd,” Fr Reitmeyer said of the Archbishop, who granted
permission to build the church after extensive research into whether the parish
could afford the repayments.

cover the roughly $1.8 million dollar costs, parishioners basically quadrupled
their Planned Giving in the Second Collection at Mass, and by the time
Archbishop Hickey dedicated the church on December 23 they had paid half of it

name Pater Noster, Latin for “Our Father”, is a change from Corpus Christi, and
arose because for five years parishioners prayed an additional Our Father just
before the final blessing at each Mass for the success of the new church.

it was finally dedicated and its altar consecrated by Archbishop Hickey, it was
concelebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, Fr Joseph Lee (who was a
deacon at Myaree when they started praying the extra Our Father), Chinese
Catholic Community chaplain Dominic Su and Frs Tom Foster and Edward Miller,m
all good friends of Fr Reitmeyer, who had worked with refugees at Port Headland
and had studied in Taiwan.

per Fr Reitmeyer’s instructions, it is a simple church that holds up to 400 and
is conducive to prayer, based on Mymaki Church in Vantaa, Finland, in the
Helsinki region. Fr Reitmeyer saw an image of the Finland church in a book
called European Church Architecture.

Noster is completely soundproofed from the busy Marmion Street it sits on, and
a first-class relic of the True Cross – which Fr Reitmeyer bought off E-bay
from a “very reputable dealer” – is encased on an altar at the back of the

simple but effective mosaics constitute three important parts of the Church.
The main central mosaic behind the altar portrays Jesus basking in rays of
white light that represent God the Father, with the words, “Father, Holy Is
Your Name” on it.

the right of the altar for the congregation is a smaller blue mosaic that is
the double-sided Tabernacle, on the other side of which is an Adoration chapel,
which can be accessed 24 hours if parishioners know the combination to unlock
the door. The Blessed Sacrament can be exposed in the chapel by simply opening
two small doors. Another blue mosaic to the left of the altar constitutes the
baptismal font, with an image of a dove representing the Holy Spirit on it.

top of the altar itself is another blue mosaic, with IHS – the symbol of Christ
– in the centre, and images of grapes (wine) and bread on either side: again,
simple, but effective.

Stations of the Cross are also simplistic silhouettes from the old “church”,
with the plaques taken off.

Paul Fox will use the furniture from the old church, which was basically a
converted classroom, for his country parish.

Oswald, a three-time parish councillor who has been at the parish since 1969,
recalled to The Record that under Fr Formosa, the parish council had approached
Archbishop Foley for permission to build a new church.

was denied, but he did grant permission to build extensions once it became
clear that the parish was outgrowing the old church which could only hold about

decent altar setting was installed according to the designs of Fr Formosa, who
was also something of an architect.

Myaree Corpus Christi parish school had been virtually operating in the same
building for 20 years – for a while there was a partition separating the
classrooms and place for worship.

new building itself is magnificent – I’ve never seen anything like it,” Mr
Oswald says. “The very fact that we’ve got it is amazing – I still can’t
believe it.”

Oswald told The Record that Fr Reitmeyer has done a “remarkable job: to get the
church off the ground.

checked on the progress regularly to see they’re doing the right thing,” Mr
Oswald said. “He’s a remarkable man in many ways.

waited 40-odd years now for this church. The school really did need a proper
church, and I’m looking forward to seeing school Masses in the coming years,
and the kids filling it.”

school adjacent to the church is now part of Mel Maria Primary School, and Mr
Oswald says that the new church has already brought back many young families to
the parish.

Oswald said that had Fr Formosa, a stoic Maltese priest who vowed to retire “when
he dies”, would have had the new church built himself but suffered illness
towards the end of his life.

said that Fr Formosa, a fascinating character who had a hobby collecting
clocks, had a great devotion to Our Lady.

Oswald said that when in hospital just before he died, he reportedly told a
visiting female parishioner, “I must go, Our Lady is waiting for me.”