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Introductory pages

The Story of the People of St Flannan’s Zillmere “not a place where but a people who”

The parish of St Flannan’s could be said to have begun when Fr Michael Brendan Green arrived on 16/3/1953 and said the first mass in the old Handford homestead on Sunday, 12/4/1953.

This book is written, on the occasion of parish’s Golden Jubilee, to honour the memory of the thousands of little people who prayed and worked to build the community of St Flannan’s over the last 50 years.

Patrick O’Shea sometime parishioner

Printed by Lea Printing, 1 Dallas Parade, Keperra Q 4054
July 2003


While every care is taken by the author to ensure the accuracy of the data in this book, he can make no representations or warranties about its accuracy, reliability, completeness or suitability for any particular purpose and disclaims all responsibility and all liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages (including indirect or consequential damage) and costs which may be incurred as a result of data being inaccurate in any way and for any reason.

Every effort has been made to record this history as accurately as possible, however as only limited records exist for some periods there may be some errors, for which I beg the reader’s indulgence.

Achievers – One and All

Several thousand children have received part of their education at St Flannan’s School, Zillmere North. To write about all of them would require volumes and take years to compile. To write about a few would be unfair to those not recorded. So the extensive roll call in the latter part of the book is presented as a tribute and memorial to all students who have attended St Flannan’s. Every care has been taken to try and include the complete roll call; if any pupils have been left out we profoundly apologise. But we did try our best.


The Story of the People of St Flannan’s Zillmere 1
Forward by Fr John Kilinko 4
Introduction 5
The Beginnings - Early Times up to August 1964 7
Renewal in the Wake of Vatican II - Sept 1964 - 1976 34
The Middle Ages 1977 - 1990 42
Recent Times - 1990 – 2003 57
Fr Michael Brendan Greene 74
Fr Martin Doyle 78
Fr Brian Heenan 80
Fr Ashley Warbrooke 83
Fr John Kilinko 84
Statement of Conclusions 86
Appendices 91
1. Adult Education 91
2. One Drink Too Many 92
3. Antioch 93
4. Caring Community 95
5. Catechists 98
6. Coffee Brigade 99
7. Deanery - Shaping and Staffing 99
8. Diversity of cultures within the parish 100
9. Ecumenical Movement 105
10. Employment Referral Service 107
11. Finance Council 108
12. Sports Days & Flarana Fair 109
13. Hey Hey It’s St Flannan’s 111
14. Ladies’ Annual Retreats 112
15. Legion of Mary 113
17. Liturgies 115
18. Ministries 116
19. Networking 119
20. Open Air Masses 121
21. Parents & Friends Association 123
22. Parish Pastoral Council 125
23. Parish Secretaries 127
24. Playgroup – Marriage Encounter – Family Group 129
25. The Quilters 131
26. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) 132
27. The Sacraments of Initiation - Baptism 134
28. Shalom: The Parish Magazine 136
29. The changing habits of the Sisters over the years 137
30. New Social Club 140
31. St Flannan the Mysterious 141
32. St Vincent de Paul Zillmere Conference 142
33. Sunday Night Dances 145
34. International Year of the Volunteer 146
35. Youth – Sport – Antioch – Support - Etc 148
36. School Bus 155
37. Rhodes Scholar – Stephen Daley 155
38. Knights of the Southern Cross 155
Chronology of St Flannan's Zillmere 1953 – 2003 157
Index 160
Endnotes for Text 160

Forward by Fr John Kilinko

During my time at Banyo Seminary in the 1970's, Zillmere Parish always had the reputation of being one which welcomed and valued the contribution that everyone brought to its life and vitality, and which was always willing to look at new ideas and possibilities, often pioneering them for the Church of Brisbane.

My two Seminary ordination classmates, Peter Dillon and Gerry Hefferan, both served here for a time, and so I was delighted to be able to complete the grouping when I was appointed here in 1996.

The past seven years of my ministry at St. Flannan's have helped me to confirm the validity of the Parish's early reputation. It is very much, as we have on our weekly Parish Newsletter, not just a "place where" things happen, but continues to be made up of a "people who" are willing to embrace the challenges that being Church in the 21st century uncovers.

Being willing to give things a go doesn't always guarantee instant or easy success, and sometimes the effort put in by people might seem to go unnoticed and undervalued. I draw consolation from what St. Paul wrote in one of his early letters (1 Corinthians 3/6-7) where he pointed out that within any community some are called to plant, some to water, and others will ultimately gain the benefit when the crop is harvested. So no effort to build up community (the Body of Christ) is unrewarded.

What we have around us today is the result of the hard work and sacrifice of the many who went before us over the past 50 years. As we celebrate our Golden Jubilee we can repay their legacy by continuing to build upon their efforts.

With you on the journey,

(Pastor 1996 - )


History is confusing because it is the story of how we operate as human beings. We do not follow well laid paths towards a happy conclusion but rather muddle through till we reach a balance in our lives, for the time being. Then we start again. History records the blind alleys, the mistakes, the confusions, the hair-raising risks and the brilliant successes before it arrives at a temporary conclusion.

To complicate matters further we can only recount a small fraction of the actual story, as Ann Wroe stated recently: "The process of writing history is to play with a few jigsaw pieces on an empty board where, once, there was a picture teeming with life." (Tablet 20/7/02)

Organisations (including Religious Orders) are started and, often contrary to the expectations of the founders, take on a life of their own. Sometimes the organisation endures for centuries but more often they only last for a short time till the need for them passes.

Some organisations tend to follow the ‘fashionable’ trend of the time, such as the setting up of educational facilities of the last 150 years. This is not to trivialise these works, but sometimes they can lead to the overlooking of other works that are urgent and should be done.

The organisations that go into the ‘unfashionable alleyways’ are the ones that pioneer new fields and the history of the Church is dotted with them.

  • Two thousand years ago a man called Jesus paid with his life because he followed what was a very unfashionable course at the time; he loved all people;
  • Eight hundred years ago a little Umbrian from Assisi, called Francis (the little Frenchman) Bernadone, risked life and limb to champion the cause of the poor whom he loved;
  • In the 19th Century, Fredrick Ozanam started a very small group to look after the needs of the poor – it continues today as the St Vincent de Paul Society, still serving the poor;
  • Sr Theresa left her secure teaching job to go into the slums of Calcutta to serve the poor;
  • Jean Vanier organised, and still lives in, homes for the disadvantaged where he serves them;
  • Dorothy Day pioneered the cause of the poor in the USA and founded the Catholic Workers Movement to serve the poor in the richest countries on earth;
  • A fat, old Italian priest called Angelo Roncalli (Pope John XXIII) called a Council in the face of fierce opposition from within the Church and succeeded in starting the process of bringing the Church into the modern world. He even loved the Communists and the Jews.

As with the Church, so it is with the Parish. Some old organisations keep on; new ones start and flourish while others disappear. Only the Church continues till the end.

However, one thing is clear - in a changing world the Church and Parish must be flexible, clinging to what is essential and throwing aside whatever no longer serves the mission of Jesus. As the beloved Angelo Roncalli said “We are not on earth to guard a museum, but to cultivate a flourishing garden of life.” Just how far ahead his thinking was in those days is shown from the following remarks by Fr Peter Kerwick of Townsville who wrote in the Catholic Leader 5/12/1982:

When the bishops went off to Rome, many asked what they could possibly find to talk about. Everything seemed so cut and dried – so black and white. We were so sure of ourselves and so confident that everything was just as it should be. Those who were interested in the liturgy and knew something of the liturgical movement had their hopes – some even dared to hope that the Council would permit the use of modern languages in the Mass.

Further on Fr Kerwick contrasted the pre and post Vatican II church:

To many people, the Church meant bishops and clergy. Lay folk in Australia were always more or less involved in Church affairs, but most thought of themselves as “helping Father”. Few were conscious that they were Apostles in their own right – that they were the “People of God” and living, loving members of the family.

He wrote this in 1982 and in 2003, we can still say the changes have only just begun - again.

Over the last 50 years one thing that clearly emerges is the constant change, spirituality and physically, in our Church and Parish. Changes such as:

  • The Church as the People of God, rather than the centralised hierarchy of past centuries;
  • The Mass which was said, and heard, to the dialogue Eucharist, which is celebrated and prayed together;
  • Latin to English;
  • The Tridentine Mass to the new order;
  • Many priests to one or none, and Nuns from many to none;
  • The Laity doing what ‘Father says’ to working with Father and taking responsibility;
  • The growth of the sensus fidelium (the reception, or rejection, of Church teaching by the faithful);
  • Confession to Reconciliation; the Rise and Fall of the Third Rite;
  • The fall in the size of families; the disappearance of most of the youth and many of the older ones;
  • The growth of Parish Councils and Finance Councils;
  • Drop in Sabbath Eucharist attendance;
  • The emergence of the Catholic school as a ‘parallel church’;
  • Etc. - But through it all our faith in Jesus the Christ carries us on.

So this little collection of word pictures and real pictures is presented for our consideration, our frustration, our clear sight, our muddle headed wanderings and, hopefully, above all, our education rather than our edification. As Peter Hebblewthaite wrote “Where the desire to edify prevails there can be no history.” I hope this little history or collection of tales does edify but not at the expense of the truth. Have fun - but not too much fun.

The work is arranged in four chapters covering the 50 years of St Flannan’s story. This section is followed by a host of articles dealing with the Parish Priests and the Parish Organisations in more detail. I apologise for any errors.

Many people have freely given me information and photos. They provided the grist and I milled it. Their names are not mentioned here because they are in the text along with their contributions. My wife Lois read, corrected, criticised and argued her way through the text a couple of times. Leigh Osborne & Fr John critiqued the entire text. Paul and Jan O’Brien critiqued the history section. Tom McCarthy dealt with the section on the Priests. Judy Muir scanned the photos and prepared the text for the printers. Louise Booth designed the covers. Thank you all.

Patrick O'Shea