AUSTRALIA from 1990 to 2003
For the first time since Vietnam, at the request of the US Government, Australia sent troops to war overseas in Iraq after that country had invaded Kuwait. The war did not last long and few Australians were directly involved.
The period was marked by high unemployment, especially of youth, which reached up to 30%. There was low inflation of less than 2% and a very prosperous economy, if you had a full time job. Multiple income families were the norm, along with welfare families where there was no job. Prices were relatively stable. Pollution of the environment was increasing and attracting more attention, and the public was more militant about changes in their local neighbourhoods. The NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) syndrome was becoming more prominent. Large government enterprises continued to be privatised in order to make them more efficient, and more workers were being laid off as redundant. Retraining was the watchword for many, provided they were not too old, which in many cases, meant over 40 years of age.
Street kids, graffiti, drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, crime hysteria driven by the media and assisted by Governments, tax avoidance and welfare cheating all combined to make the times frustrating. They also made many people increasingly cynical about politicians and their promises, which in turn caused many to turn to alternative political parties, some of which were extreme. Scapegoats for the troubles abounded and the ‘quick fix’ type of solution became commonplace.
Divorce rates were soaring and church attendance declining but religious affiliation seemed fairly stable. The Catholic Church was just as much affected as any other Church. Child abuse and Domestic Violence were coming under increasing scrutiny and condemnation. Sexual scandals involving priests and religious had rocked the Catholic Church and many priests, especially young ones, were leaving the ministry. Vocations to the priesthood and religious life were still dropping. In 1997 there were no new students for the priesthood at Banyo Seminary. On the other hand, the Theology courses were drawing substantial numbers of lay people, mainly women.
The booming business financial sector of the 1980s was replaced with a more subdued and cautious approach, while several of the corporate ‘high fliers’ were prosecuted and some jailed for their activities in the 1980s.
Landmark decisions by the High Court favoured the indigenous people. The Mabo case erased the concept of Terra Nullius and paved the way for Aboriginals to claim land rights. Many highly educated and very able professional Aboriginals were well able to put their case and many white people supported them. The Catholic Church, along with the other Churches, was becoming more prominent in the debate as the Social Justice platform became more developed. Justice for all the disadvantaged, not just disadvantaged Catholics, was becoming the aim of much Church activity.
The long serving federal Labor Government gave way to the Coalition Government led by John Howard and a generally harsher outlook pervaded its policies. A new tax system, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), was introduced to simplify and broaden the tax base. Stringent financial management of the economy assumed centre stage and the Federal Budget ran with a surplus which was used to retire internal Government debt.
Australian troops were sent to East Timor, under United Nations command, to stop the massacre of the people who had voted for independence from Indonesia. Many refugees were already in Australia. Still later, troops were sent to Afghanistan, at US request, partly to liberate the people from the fundamentalist Taliban and partly to punish the bombers who destroyed the World Trade Centre in New York. The war on terror had begun and it came home to Australia with the death of many young people in the Bali, Indonesia bombing.
Tens of millions of people are on the move, crossing national frontiers and upsetting many people in different countries. Australia has, so far been shielded from this movement because of its isolated position. However some politicians aroused xenophobic passions over the arrival of small numbers of asylum seekers arriving in leaky boats on the North West coast of Australia.
On the weekend of the 15th July 1990 Fr Tony Hallam read a letter from Fr Brian Heenan, who was overseas, telling the stunned congregations that he had accepted an appointment to the "On Going Education of Priests' Ministry". He was taking over from Fr Joe McGeehan who had been working in the role for the past five years and was retiring on 1/1/1991. Fr Brian was going to Canberra for a three month training course for his new position so that, in effect, he would not be returning to minister at St Flannan’s, but would attend the annual Open Air Mass on the 26th August which would now be a farewell to him.
In the Bulletin of 22/7/1990 Fr Tony Hallam, after expressing his shock at the resignation of Fr Brian, went on to write about the role of the people of St Flannan’s:
In the past 13 years there has been a growing recognition amongst the people of Zillmere that all of us are important in the work of the Church. The scary part of all this, is that Brian has brought us all to the point where all of us know the leadership and the responsibility for our community lies not so much with the Pastor, but with everyone. There are leaders within the community who can take responsibility for the life of St Flannan’s – and that is scary.
So even though I was upset, shocked and scared, I now feel Brian has not deserted us, but in his leaving has shown us all the next stage in our faith development – that of shared leadership and ministry of St Flannan’s.
On Wednesday, 8th August a Parish Assembly of about 100 people, together with the members of the Priests’ Personnel Board, met to discuss the appointment of a successor to Fr Brian. The parishioners shared their hopes and fears and visions of the future for the parish and on the type of priest who could best lead them. The Board members took these ideas with them to help in the process of discernment to select the new Parish Priest.
The Leader on 19th August announced that Fr Ashley Warbrooke had been appointed the new PP for St Flannan’s. Following this, Fr Brian wrote in the parish bulletin that Fr Ashley had been Secretary to the Archbishop for the previous four years and before that served as Assistant Priest at Darra, Wishart, Ipswich and Clayfield. This was his first appointment as PP and he would arrive in mid September.
While being farewelled, Fr Brian found time to farewell Joan Sweeney who had been on the staff of St Flannan’s school for the previous 27 years and was retiring at the end of the year. He congratulated her for the wonderful service she had given the school and the parish. Then he announced the retirement of Lu Cross who had served the priests of the parish for many years in the presbytery. He wished her well and told her to enjoy a well deserved rest and good fishing.
In 1991 the Sacramental Program Team was formed to implement the new Sacramental Program. The idea behind the changes was that the parents of the children, the first educators, should prepare the children. Previously the teachers in the Catholic schools were responsible for preparing their pupils for the sacraments of Reconciliation, Communion and Confirmation while the Catechists prepared the children from the State schools. While the teachers still do much of the preparation the parents are now much more involved.
The Sacramental Program was promulgated by the Archdiocese in 1988 but the parish did not take it up till 1991. The changes were innovative, and worried some people, as this was one of the biggest changes since the dramatic changes in the Liturgy (Mass) and Reconciliation (Confession) of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some parents initially thought that the program was an attempt by the teachers to offload their responsibilities on to the parents.
Fr Brian Heenan was appointed as Bishop of Rockhampton in July 1991 only six months after taking up his position in the Ministry to Priests. Many parishioners made the trip to Rockhampton for Fr Brian’s Episcopal Ordination. The Diocese of Rockhampton stretches from Bundaberg to Mackay and west to the Territory border. There are 75,000 Catholics, 41 parishes, 26 primary and 9 secondary schools in an area of 416,000 square kilometers.
On the 3rd November 1991, about 60 parishioners met to seek a vision for the parish for the next five years (1992 – 1996) in the spirit of Collaborative Ministries. Four working groups were established to plan for the following areas:
Reaching out to people who are marginalized and alienated; Parish Resources; Ministry; Education.
The groups were to present the plans to the parish in April 1992. This was done, and a process of discernment by the Parish Council began which carried on until 5th November 1992, when the results were presented to the parishioners. The following Task Forces were set up:
Life-long Learning which was to develop 1. Adult Education courses - which have been held intermittently, and 2. Establish a Parish Resource Centre – which is located in the Parish Administration Building.
Youth Ministry which was to 1. Investigate the employment of a Deanery Youth Worker – which did not eventuate, and 2. Establish a Youth Ministry in the parish – which was done.
Outreach which was to explore ways to reach out to the disadvantaged.
Parish Newspaper which established the quarterly, and later, thrice annually, Shalom.
School Administration Building which was to explore alternative uses of the top floor of the old convent. This came to naught, but eventually a Parish Administration centre was built.
A review was held on 29/10/1995 when parishioners were asked to fill in a questionnaire in order to give their opinion as to how well the ministries were operating. 190 parishioners answered the questions and gave a high level of approval to most ministries. However, they indicated that the Ecumenical and Youth Ministries needed to be overhauled, while the use of music tapes at Mass was not very popular.
The first ordination to the priesthood of a resident of St Flannan’s parish was that of Fr Tim Harris which took place in St Stephen’s Cathedral on 18th November 1992. He was born in the parish and went to Virginia State School and Nudgee College. Leaving school, he worked for the Westpac Bank for six years before going to Banyo Seminary where he completed his studies for the priesthood. At present he is stationed at Corinda/Graceville parish and has been on sabbatical in Dublin.
After three years in the parish Fr Tony Hallam was transferred to the Cathedral in December 1992. Ken Manwaring expressed the thoughts of the parishioners when he wrote of Fr Tony in the parish bulletin:
We not only gained a new insight into the Scriptures with his scholarly references, but we also learnt to know the man, his family, his passion for steam engines and his misguided sporting preferences. His cheerfulness and openness endeared him to parishioners of all ages, no doubt helped by his movie star looks. We shall miss the spontaneity of his approach, his novel presentations, his leisurely morning stroll to Mass and his youthful exuberance.
Fr Tony regretted leaving but was looking forward to the challenges of the new parish. He finished up with “So the fire has been dropped. The steam is gone and the locomotive is stabled. P.S. How many turtles live in Zillmere?" Fr Tony was appointed to Gayndah in 1994.
Evelyn Williams retired from St Flannan’s school after 34 years service on the 24th June 1992. The students dressed up as Wizard of Oz characters and she walked the yellow brick road around the class groups to bid farewell to all the children and teachers. Evelyn first worked as a volunteer teacher in the beginning of her long career, later she became the school secretary, still later a part-time teacher and finally, a fulltime teacher. There would be few who could equal such a record. And it doesn’t stop there as her three daughters and four grandchildren all went to St Flannan’s .
During the year Jim O’Brien, an Irishman and a teacher, was in the parish doing his pastoral year. His was a late vocation to the priesthood, and he was attending Kensington seminary in Sydney which catered for such candidates. Jim’s Irish brogue reminded many of the older parishioners of the days when it was a common sound coming from Catholic pulpits. He was farewelled at the end of July 1992.
The Parish Finance Committee, which monitored parish finances, operated from at least 1970 but only on an ad hoc basis. The committee met intermittently and the priest carried most of the work and worry. The Parish Finance Council replaced it in 1993, in line with all other parishes in the Archdiocese, to standardise procedures throughout the area and place them under the supervision of the Archbishop. The new body began to operate in the parish from April 1993 with the following members, Tom McCarthy (Chair), John Cameron (Secretary), Marilyn McLean, Marnie Dann, Mark Sheppard, Tony Emms and Mike Lalor . A further change came about in July 1999 when the financial management of the School was separated from that of the Parish. These changes reflect the more sophisticated financial procedures that are becoming more necessary as the Australian economy matures.
At the end of 1992 Mary Ford retired from the school after serving for 16 years, 15 as Assistant to the Principal Religious Education. Mary worked hard in and out of school. She is especially remembered for the huge amount of work she did for the parish liturgies, organizing children in liturgical dance and song as well as decorating the sanctuary in the church for the different liturgical seasons. Mary went to teach at Scarborough.
In March 1993 the New Social Club was launched in the parish hall where there was space for activities and a kitchen for the indispensable cuppa. Meeting monthly, the Club offered tuition in craft, crochet, knitting and bark painting, as well as card games and other activities, including socializing and chatting over cups of tea. Guest speakers were invited at the beginning of the school terms to start proceedings for the term. Trips away were organized, such as the visit to Toowoomba for the Carnival of Flowers in September 1998.
Around about 70 to 100 people were attracted, but this settled down to about 35 to 40 over time. There were people of all ages, varying from young mothers with their small children to retirees, all joining in together.
The Life Long Learning Task Force committee was set up in 1993 to cater for Adult Education in the Parish. It was decided to follow the Pastoral Ministry Leadership Formation course which comprised several units over a 2 year period. The course included formal topics, development of skills, visiting speakers, retreats and discussions. The first unit commenced in June 1994.
The 40th Birthday of the parish was celebrated on the 25th July 1993 with the annual Morning tea after 9.00am Open Air Mass followed by lunch, merry go round, games and balloons. Fr Ashley wrote
…the Parish celebration of our first forty years was indeed a wonderful occasion. The skies may have been a little grey, but the atmosphere was sunny. A few spots of rain at the beginning had all of us a little worried, but the good Lord smiled on us once again, and the rain didn’t fall until after mass.
On the 30th July 1993 the newly built Parish Community & Administration Centre costing $112,000 was opened. It was built by Giulio and Brian Bardini. Maureen Hamilton recalls that there was much discussion, and not a little controversy, surrounding the project. At the time, many people felt that the parish could not afford such a building, as it was a lower middle class and retired person’s area. They argued that there were alternative office sites available in the Convent, the old High School and the Presbytery. With the latter option, it was argued that the priest could rent a unit in the nearby newly completed Handford Park. Arbitrators were called in to settle the differences and find the best option, which was to build, and so it was done. Some people felt so strongly against building that they stopped their direct giving and a few may have left the parish.
As time went on, a healing process took place and the direct giving resumed where it had left off. This was a good example of the community making up its mind about a major item of expenditure, and the pain that it caused. But if the parish is to grow, then the parishioners have to learn to live with the consequences of their decisions.
Another collective decision, which engendered strong debate, was to launch the parish magazine, Shalom, which commenced with the first issue in December 1993. Shalom is a parish magazine and depends on the writings of the parishioners, their stories, family photos, parish events, celebrations, activities, organizations, births, deaths and marriages, arrivals and departures, etc. It is a chronicle of the parish and has proved invaluable for the compilation of the parish history.
The name Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace and is used as a greeting when meeting, and a farewell when leaving friends. Jesus would have used it frequently. Shalom came up as a suggestion, the only one the committee could agree on.
St Flannan’s Youth Support Group was formed in 1994 by parents to help the young people develop their own social life in the parish. Social activities included, Videos in the Administration building, Bonfire, Skating night, Indoor Rock Climbing, Pizza Nights, a visit to Amazons and regular Youth Masses with supper afterwards. A small newsletter was produced and helped to bring between 25 to 30+ young people together for a while.
There was an open Invitation from Antioch Aspley to attend their activities, with meetings each Sunday after the evening mass and this attracted some from St Flannan’s. The youth themselves were approached on a number of occasions to see what they really wanted, but there seemed to be a great deal of apathy among them about involvement in, or relevance of, the Church to their lives. The group continued untill about 1997 but with limited success.
Pat Mullins worked among the parishioners for six months from October 1993 till March 1994. Pat is one of those gifted women who, after raising their family, start a new career. She obtained degrees in both Arts and Theology and used them to further her vision of encouraging people to take up their partnership with the church by recognizing the gifts they have and then sharing them. Pat worked with the groups in St Flannan’s to establish a collaborative ministry in the parish. She helped each group to identify its role and then compile a Role Statement.
Sr Moira Sheedy LCM arrived as Parish Pastoral Worker in January 1994 to take up the position when Sr Judith Murphy PBVM left to go to Kingaroy. Sr Moira trained as a nurse at St Vincent’s in Melbourne and entered the Little Company of Mary in 1965. Sr Moira continued nursing until 1976 when she moved into pastoral work in caring for the terminally ill and bereavement care. During this time a Theology degree was begun, and completed in 1991. Following this, several years were spent working with unemployed people assisting them to find jobs. Then St Flannan’s called.
The role of women in positions of authority in the church was very new. Previously they had been forbidden to perform any ministry inside the sanctuary during Mass, until 1980 when Rome granted permission for women to be readers. However, some dioceses and/or parishes may have previously managed to circumvent the strict rule in various ways. When the new Code of Canon Law was promulgated in 1983 women were allowed to perform many more ministries, but still not as altar servers. The fear was that it might encourage women who wanted to be priests. Finally, on 14th April 1994 the ban was lifted and women were allowed to be altar servers, but, they were solemnly warned that they could not become priests. By this time there was not much for altar servers to do anyway, and also, young people were noticeable by their absence at mass. A month after permission was granted St Flannan’s had its first female altar server. On 15th May Jaci Smith, who had attended St Flannan’s school, became the first female to assist at Mass. One wonders what Fr Greene would have thought; one wonders why it took so long and only happened when it didn’t really matter much anyway.
On the 31st July 1994 the 40th Anniversary of St Flannan’s school was celebrated at the annual Open Air Mass, morning tea and BBQ lunch. While the wind was gusty it did not dampen the spirit of the day and several hundred stayed on for the BBQ. A highlight of the celebrations was the planting of forty trees in the grounds of the school where they joined the old giant Camphor Laurels. There was a continuous round of entertainment, with the Merry go Round and games of all sorts.
The theatre restaurant, “Hey Hey It’s St Flannan’s”, which consisted of a three course meal and a couple of hours of live entertainment, was first staged in 1994 after the Saturday night Mass in the parish hall. The creator and moving spirit, Andrew Oberthur, writes:
‘Hey Hey’ was created initially to have some fun and raise a few dollars for the music ministry of the parish but it became so much more. It was a source of energy for the creative team who met for a couple of months before the show to create something from (almost) nothing. It was a night of amateur entertainment which brought smiles and laughter to many people over the years. It brought people together who would not normally meet outside of Church. It re-kindled old friendships, strengthened existing friendships and created new friendships, just by sharing a meal and having a few laughs.
The Leader of 23rd October 1994 reported that St Flannan’s had a network of parishioners which regularly visited the 1250 Catholic families in the parish. The volunteers “take with them the Good News of friendship, caring and a sense of belonging” says Michael Lavery. They take copies of Shalom which was started just 12 months ago in September 1993. This ensures that the non-Church going members are reached. A parishioner, Frank Conroy, developed the idea of a parish newsletter which did not carry advertising and was free. Each edition has a print run of between 1250 to 1300 copies .
On 26th June 1995, a 46 year old former Vietnamese, Nguyen Van Vinh, was ordained to the Deaconate at St Flannan’s by Bishop James Cuskelly. He had spent time in the parish gaining pastoral experience and practicing preaching sermons in English with help and active direction from a group of parishioners. He arrived in Australia at the end of 1988 and spent four years in Sydney (two of them learning English) and then entered St Paul’s Seminary for late vocations at Kensington. His family still lives in Vietnam . Vinh was ordained a priest on 18/11/1995 at St Stephen’s Cathedral by Archbishop Bathersby.
The need for a local daytime respite centre for severely disabled people and their families had been acute for many years. So Maureen & Bevan Gallagher, who have a severely disabled son, Kieran, with the help of several other parishioners, made endless telephone calls, wrote letters and interviewed politicians and Government Departments, until on the 27th July 1995 the Qualcare Association Inc was registered. Nudgee College made a room available, and a grant of $150,000 was obtained from the Government to set up the facilities and provide a bus modified for wheel chair access. Later the name was changed to Qualtime Inc, and the Mary Rice Centre was opened at Nudgee College on the 10th August 1996. The centre provides day respite for 6 persons five days per week. It now has a property in Muller Road, Taigum.
The Parish Family Groups were formed in October 1995 after a committee examined several types of groups to see which one best suited the parish. The one chosen was the Passionist Family Group Movement, which had been very successful in other parishes after having started in Sydney about 30 years previously. The Groups are strictly social, with the idea of getting to know one another better, to meet and make new friends of all ages, to support one another in joys and sorrows and to involve our children directly, or indirectly by our example. Each group draws up an individual program for the year but slots in two common items; the annual Family Mass and the “Christmas in July” celebration.
Sometime about 1995 Gamblers Anonymous was established at St Flannan’s where they have the use of the St Vincent de Paul room under the church. Two separate groups meet on two separate nights each week with attendances of about 12 to 15 members each night. It operates on similar lines to Alcoholics Anonymous which also meets in the same room on one night a week.
For the members, gambling is a progressive illness which will get worse and cannot be controlled. The only way out is for the person to admit s/he is a compulsive gambler and desire to stop. Then, with the help of a higher agency and the other members, that end can be achieved even though they still have the illness. They use the Serenity prayer – God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can - and the Wisdom to know the difference.
In 1995 the State Government enacted the Workplace Health & Safety Act which meant that the whole parish plant has to be under constant supervision and inspection. Safety checks are undertaken and the checks have to be registered on paper which is kept for inspection. A new Safety Policy had to be developed, written and followed.
In 1996, due to the shortage of priests, the local Pastoral Area group of parishes began work on planning the “Shaping and Staffing” of the local parishes for the foreseeable future. This involves deciding how the available Priests, Parish Assistants and Office Staff will be apportioned among the parishes. The “Shaping and Staffing” of the local Parishes was planned and decided by the local section of the Deanery, rather than by the Archdiocese. It was the first time that parishioners were directly involved in the future planning of the local Parishes.
The report was finalized in April 1997 and forwarded to Archbishop Bathersby who accepted the recommendations. While all of the 6 Priests were still working in their 6 parishes no immediate change took place. However, when the number of priests fell to 5, the parishes of Brighton and Sandgate had to share a pastor, with Pastoral Associates at each parish to support Fr Stratford. The model chosen in 1997 is still relevant for the shaping and staffing of the local parishes into the future.
The school received a Telstra Grant on 30th June 1996. St Flannan’s is the first primary school in Qld to get an industry grant to enhance student’s skills in telecommunications and computer technology. The grant of $7,000 was to buy computer publishing equipment to produce the Green Gazette, an environmental publication edited by the children. Organized by a Year 7 teacher, Terry Madden, it was to be placed on an Internet site. The equipment comprised a computer, a scanner, a colour printer and a ‘quick take’ camera .
In the Parish Bulletin on the 10th March 1996, Fr Ashley announced that the Archbishop had accepted his resignation to take effect from 3/4th August. He wrote:
I have always believed very strongly that an appointment for a term of 6 years is a good period for both priest and people and even though I tendered my resignation with some sadness, I believe it is for the good of us all.
He was taking a 12 months Sabbatical to study Theology and Spirituality in Santa Fe, New Mexico USA, and then on to Jerusalem for Scripture study.
In the same notice it was announced that a meeting of parishioners with the Archbishop's representatives was called for the 18th April at 7.30pm in the parish hall to discuss "the needs of St Flannan's and its Pastor as we journey together through the next exciting and challenging years." The Bulletin of 14th April 1996 added, "the information gathered will be of help to the Archbishop in the making of this appointment. It will also be of benefit to Priests applying for this position." The meeting took place and was attended by about 50 parishioners and the results conveyed to the Archbishop.
The farewell to Fr Ashley was at the Open Air Mass on 4th August 1996 with morning tea and the usual celebrations. A collection was taken up and a cheque presented to him to help pay for the cost of his Sabbatical studies in the USA and Jerusalem. Printed in the Bulletin was the following appreciation:
As we reflect on the past six years, we offer thanks to God for the ways in which the people of St Flannan’s have been touched by the gentle presence of Father Ashley.
His presence has been particularly enabling for the movement of the parish towards greater responsibility of the laity and their involvement in ministry.
Fr Ashley was a man who taught and lived the Gospel and this was never more evident than in his homilies which remained a talking point often late into the week. This was also carried through in his attitude of integrity expressed in his innate kindness and respect for the dignity of each, and has made him a well loved pastor.
In the week following Fr Ashley’s departure his successor, Fr John Kilinko, arrived and was welcomed the following weekend. He was just 40 years old, was ordained on 2/7/1979 and had served in eight parishes. On Sunday 1st September he was formally installed as pastor of St Flannan’s by Bishop Michael Putney.
After 10 years as Principal of St Flannan’s school, Mike Lalor transferred to Brighton school and was farewelled on 22nd November 1996. Despite the fact that Mike and family lived at Dayboro, they had made St Flannan’s their parish, where Mike was a Reader, Eucharistic Minister, Member of the Parish Council, etc. He was given a celebration dinner at the Bracken Ridge Tavern by the Parish and School where tales were told about his time at St Flannan's.
Doreen Bazzo replaced Mike Lalor as the new Principal of St Flannan’s at the beginning of 1997. Doreen came from Maleny and trained in the State system, teaching at several schools. After marriage and raising a family, Doreen came back to teaching in 1967, this time in the Catholic system. While teaching she has studied and obtained higher qualifications, including a Masters in Education in Catholic Schooling. Doreen was responsible for the first stage in the refurbishment of the school and the building of the new Pre-School in 2001. She retired at the end of 2001.
Anthony Mellor was ordained to the Diaconate at St Flannan’s on Friday evening the 6th June 1997 by Bishop Michael Putney. He spent his Diaconate at St Mary’s in Ipswich. Ordination to the priesthood followed at St Stephen’s Cathedral on Wednesday, 12th November 1997, and on the following Friday evening he celebrated his thanksgiving mass at St Flannan’s.
Anthony was born at Inala in 1974 and the family moved to Banyo in 1978. He completed his secondary schooling at St Columban’s Albion and went on to obtain a degree in teaching in 1988. A series of jobs followed until he decided to enter Banyo Seminary in 1991. He continued as Associate Pastor at St Mary’s Ipswich after his ordination. Anthony is the second resident of St Flannan’s parish to be ordained to the priesthood.
When the Parish Administration building was erected in 1993, there was an agreement with the Brisbane City Council that the parish would donate to the Council the flood plain along Cabbage Tree Creek at the Western end of the property. This was finalized in 1998 and the BCC then built a new fence marking the new boundary. The cost of conveyance was some $3,500 and the area donated was 4,719M2. The area of St Flannan’s was then 10ac 0r 2.42p or 40,529.8M2.
A Parish Assembly was held on 23rd and 24th May 1998 after the only two Masses for the weekend. Parishioners assembled in the hall and thrashed out their ideas for the next three years. The results were sent to the Parish Council for collation and organization.
This was the third planning assembly to be held in the 1990s, the others were in 1991/2 and 1995. These assemblies emphasize the importance of the laity in the development of the parish. They also emphasize the rapidity with which change is taking place, both in the church and the world. Because of this rapid change there is a great deal of uncertainty; methods that used to work may not do so any more and new ways have to be constantly developed.
Many people are directly involved in the work associated with such activities, apart from the ones who just come to the general assembly to make their ideas known. However, they only constitute a small proportion of the total number of parishioners and they do wear out. By the 1998 assembly many people were suffering from exhaustion because planning involves many frustrations and the temptation to give up altogether. This is especially so when a change takes a long time to produce results.
In the process of planning, some strongly held opinions are expressed and emotions aroused. One such instance occurred between the group planning the Vision Statement and the Parish Council. The group wanted to include a long used symbol with the statement, but was overruled by the Council. The Council prevailed and some people in the planning group felt very disappointed. They still felt that they were right but they accepted the decision and got on with the rest of the planning.
The final result of the Assembly was a list of goals for the 24 active and new groups in the parish. Many of the goals included the continuation of activities already operating within the groups. With each activity a person responsible was nominated, so that from time to time this person could give a report to the Parish Council outlining what the group was currently doing.
A Parent Library was opened at the school on 4th October, 1998 for parents who wanted to learn more about parenting. Year 3 teacher, Mary-Ann Sorenson, found that she could not answer all the questions on parenting that were being raised. She felt that she was not qualified in this area, so she set up the library with reference books for such skills as parenting, health, education, discipline, etc. The new library is located in the school library .
In the Catholic Leader of the 21st February, 1999, Archbishop Bathersby called for a return to the First Rite of Reconciliation. This followed the visit to Rome by the Australian Bishops in 1998, and the shock of The Statement of Conclusions issued by the Vatican. This was seen by many as a ‘turning back of the clock’ and stirred up a great deal of anger. There had been a strong and widespread campaign by a group of Catholics, calling themselves the Catholic Advocacy Centre, which was aimed at secretly observing the activities of priests using the Third Rite of Reconciliation, and then reporting the results to Rome. It appears that the Vatican listened to their argument rather than that of the Australian Bishops, and ordered the Bishops to stop using the Third Rite, save for exceptional circumstances. The Bishops complied.
The result for St Flannan’s was the cessation of the Easter and Christmas community Rite of Reconciliation, which had been in use since at least 1976, when introduced by Fr Doyle. About 400 people attended this ceremony in the 1970s and about 700 people in the 1990s, while the First Rite was attracting about 4 or 5 persons per weekend. Since the Third Rite was forbidden, the parish has celebrated a Communal Service of Reconciliation without Absolution and this draws large congregations of some 500 persons. The demand for the First Rite is still very small, used by only a few people each week. This trend goes back to at least 1977, when Fr Heenan commented that there were only 5 or 6 persons using the First Rite each week. It seems that many people are using the present service as their form of Reconciliation whether the Vatican approves or not. Is this vox populi the sensus fidelium in action?
On the 25th February 1999 Archbishop Bathersby made a flying 24 hour visit to the parish. The visit started with an informal lunch attended by the Leadership teams of St Flannan’s and Nudgee College. This was followed by visits to some of the housebound parishioners. In the evening about 35 parishioners, representing most of the active groups in the parish, met with the Archbishop in the Administration meeting room. Each person was given some time to outline what their group was doing in the parish. The Archbishop listened carefully and his concentration did not waiver; he really listened and asked questions. Andrew Oberthur, who chaired the meeting, later commented, “As I listened to the Archbishop’s comments and questions, it struck me how rare it must be for the Archbishop to hear something new when he visits Parishes. On two occasions he remarked that he had ‘never heard of that before’ when referring to our Parish magazine ‘Shalom’ and our devotions to prayer through the Little Prayers for Little Prayers.”
St Flannan’s has always had a goodly proportion of newly arrived migrants living in the parish. The earliest were Italians and Displaced Persons just after World War II. The latest, Sudanese families fleeing the long running civil war which had devastated large parts of the Southern Sudan. The first Sudanese family arrived in February 1999 and the second in June 2001 and both had little in the way of belongings. The parish was able to help by providing furniture and clothing through the St Vincent de Paul society. They can speak very little English although the children learn it quickly when they go to school and they have to act as interpreters for the adults. The language barrier makes it hard for them to obtain employment.
An article appearing in the Catholic Leader on the 11th April, 1999 marked an important milestone in the development of the parish. It was prompted by a remark of the Archbishop when he visited the parish in February, to the effect that we ought to publicize the story of the Networkers in the Leader. The story was told and it noted that networking started 12 years ago and still operates with one networker to 12 Catholic households. The networker called regularly just to say hello and ask if s/he could be of help. It also mentioned that five years ago Shalom was started, and that the networkers delivered it on their calls. For the parishioners, at least those who read the Catholic Leader, it provided an assurance that some of their changes were taking root and flourishing.
The entire parish was rocked by a double fatality on the 11th May, 1999, when Stella and Patrick Looi were killed in a motor accident on the corner of Sandgate and Roscommon Roads, Boondall. The Loois, who were from Malaysia, had made Australia their home. When the accident happened, Patrick was driving Stella to the Boondall State School where she was one of St Flannan’s catechists teaching Religious Education. The school erected a plaque in a little memorial garden to the memory of Stella. The dedication ceremony was presided over by Fr Kilinko, which is some indication of the cordial relations that exist between the parish and the school.
Both Patrick, who was a Buddhist, and Stella were buried from St Flannan’s and family members came from Malaysia to attend the funeral. Also present were members of the Chinese community, including representatives of the Buddhist faith, who took an active part in the ceremonies.
The two children, Theresa and Kerrie-Anne, were looked after by parishioners until relatives were able to take them to Malaysia. Even then, these parishioners kept up a correspondence with the children. In 2002 both children returned to Brisbane to attend school at Stuartholme College and both are involved in the music ministry at the 9am mass.
In July 1999 it was announced that the school was to be refurbished over the next several years. A master plan had been drawn up and Stage 1 was to be completed by the end of 1999. The school started in 1954 and although the buildings were erected at different times, many of them were described as “tired, inadequately lit and poorly ventilated. Classrooms are not outfitted in accordance with the requirements of modern curriculum and, in most instances, floor coverings are old, worn out and difficult to keep clean.” A capital budget had been planned to cover the next 10 years and will be serviced by loans from the Archdiocesan Development Fund and Government grants. Income for the Budget was to come entirely from the parents of children attending the school. No parish funds were to be used.
The refurbishment also marks another milestone in the history of the parish in that the finances of the school were separated from those of the parish. The school now had to survive on its own with fees and Government Grants and Subsidies.
At the same time Sr Moira Sheedy LCM finished as Pastoral Assistant in the parish after being here for five and a half years. She was given a rousing sendoff at the Bracken Ridge Tavern attended by over 100 parishioners of all ages. Sr Moira went to a position at Penrith NSW, later to Woolongong NSW and then to Carnarvon WA.
The annual Open Air Mass became the Community Mass and was celebrated indoors for the first time on the 1st August 1999. This avoided the problems of rain (sometimes), wind (often), and the task of moving a lot of hardware into the playground for just a few hours with the workforce getting older. “The focus of the liturgy was to celebrate and affirm the many and varied Ministries in the parish. This really included everyone because, as a vital, living community, we continually minister to each other.” In addition it was the 20th Anniversary of Fr John’s ordination to the priesthood and his family was here to celebrate with the parish. The church was filled with both wings opened up, and a large number of parishioners stayed for the morning tea in the playground after mass.
On the 1st August 2000, Stephen Anderson left Brisbane, with 69 other young people and Archbishop Bathersby, to travel on the trip of a lifetime to the World Youth Day in Rome. They travelled via Egypt, the pyramids and Mt Sinai, through the Red and the Dead Seas, on to Jerusalem and Galilee, then to Rome where the ceremonies began in earnest.
Like others on the pilgrimage, Stephen experienced moments of great spiritual uplift. One such moment occurred when he took part in a renewal of baptism at the place where St John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. He recounts what happened:
I changed from being disappointed to being deeply moved by what was happening. The fact that I was emulating what Jesus had done, in the same place brought myself and several others to the point of tears. Joy, reverence, and an enormous sense of belonging overcame us all. It was an amazing transformation.
The Millennium Bug loomed large prior to the turn of the century when, like all businesses, the parish had to have all computers and machines that had computer parts checked to make sure they would still operate after the 1st January 2000.
A unique event occurred for Advent 1999 in that the World Peace Flame came to St Flannan’s. This symbol of peace was made from the flames lit on each of the continents and combined into one flame. It was then transported across the oceans back to each of the continents by military aircraft. The peace flame was transported in the containers used to transport the Olympic flame and lent by the Olympic committee. Candles were then lit from this flame and distributed to various places including St Flannan’s. Each Sunday the candle was lit before mass and prayers were offered for peace. Parishioners were invited to light candles from this flame and take them home, lighting them each day and praying for peace. A few parishioners took exception to this simple ceremony on the grounds that some of the people involved in lighting the original candles were not Christians and that such a candle should not be in the sanctuary. Some people felt so strongly that they left the parish.
Liturgy Groups had been working with the Parish Priest to prepare the weekend Liturgies since the late 1970s. There were several groups of approximately four parishioners, each of which used to meet in their homes on a rostered basis to prepare one liturgy for all Masses on each weekend. The group would plan an Introduction, Penitential Rite, Gospel Acclamation, Prayers of the Faithful for use by the Commentator at Mass, and choose the hymns appropriate to the day for the Musicians. Later, the meeting format changed to representatives of each group meeting with the Parish Priest once a month to plan the liturgies for the coming month. Each representative reported back to his or her group and a liturgy was planned. There was a break for some time in the late 1990s but the activity resumed after Easter 2003.
A Parish Website, designed by a parishioner, Maureen Hamilton, was opened on 15th October 2000. It gave parish information on a variety of topics such as services, Mass times, parish contacts and general information. The site was updated regularly by a small team of parishioners. It closed in early 2002 when the parish office computers were updated by the Archdiocese and a new website was proposed.
Following on from the sex abuse scandals of the 1990s, there was considerable strengthening of the laws protecting children and young people. The 2000 Commission for Children and Young People Act provides for a detailed assessment of a person’s suitability to work with children. This means that even part time workers such as Catechists (now known as R.E. Teachers in State Schools) and Children’s Liturgy volunteers had to be assessed to see if they were allowed access to children. Even the Parish Priest had to have a clearance in order to visit the school. A parish assessment policy had to be developed and implemented.
From 1st July 2000 the Goods & Services Tax really drew the Church into the tax system. The parish was supported by the Archdiocese which conducted many seminars to teach the new rules. The GST had been introduced for businesses and the Taxation Office and Government had little idea of how the religious and charitable system worked. There was a year of changing legislation until all rulings for the religious sector came into being. Now GST is recorded and reported quarterly.
Doreen Dobbins, School Financial Secretary, retired 6th July 2001 after being associated with the school as a volunteer and full time worker since 1975. Doreen started as a volunteer who could type, became secretary to the P&F, Fete and Flarana Fair, as well as a stall convener at Flarana Fair, and from 1980, the full time School Secretary.
Another Parish Assembly was held on 4th November 2001 for the parish response to the Archdiocesan Synod to be held on 1-5th May 2003. About 60 parishioners attended for a couple of hours to decide what would be St Flannan’s suggested topics to be submitted to the Synod. The data submitted to this meeting came from a questionnaire which was circulated earlier among parishioners and parish groups. The meeting submitted the following suggestions to the North East Deanery where they would be combined with the submissions from the other parishes in the Deanery:
Our Spiritual Treasure – Extend Adult Education – Register of parishioners email addresses for quick communication;
Our Spiritual Hunger – Reintroduce the Third Rite of Reconciliation – Promote ministries at Mass;
Our Youth of the Parish – Form a youth ministry to prepare a monthly mass, followed by a social gathering – Employ a Youth worker;
Ministry, Mission and Vocation – Invite back priests who have left the ministry – Allow priests to be married – Listen to those advocating female priests – Encourage the Deaconate for both men and women.
Also, Paul O’Brien was elected as the parish delegate to the Synod, and four other parishioners (Aileen Williams, Maryrose Hocken, Pat O’Shea and Paul McLean) were elected to attend the Deanery gathering at Aspley with Paul on the 18th May, 2002. At that meeting Maryrose Hocken was elected as the Deanery representative to the Synod in 2003.
The old original High School, or Blue School, while structurally sound, was declared unfit to use for classrooms in 2001 due to the changes in teaching methods, equipment and regulations. It had served its purpose and had become technologically obsolete as the educational environment changed. It is still used for storage, incidental use by Flarana Fair and other activities such as Band Practice, etc.
The new Principal of St Flannan’s, Bob Joyce, commenced duties in January 2002. He began teaching with the State system in 1967 and transferred to De La Salle College in 1971. In 1990 he was appointed Principal at Deception Bay Catholic School, where he stayed till coming to St Flannan’s.
2002: Networking group reports there are about 1140 households in the parish which are being visited three times a year by networkers.
The new Pre-School was blessed by Fr John and opened by Mr Ronan Lee MLA (Representing Ms Anna Bligh, Minister for Education) on the 29th April 2002. Present was Mrs Doreen Bazzo, the previous Principal who was responsible for the planning and part building of the unit. According to the Principal, Bob Joyce, the “absolute highlight” of the day was the chicken dance by the Preschoolers. Also opened on the day were the Stages 1&2 of the refurbished facilities in the existing school. The pre-school was built to accommodate about 50 pupils but only has 40 at present. Although the application to the Government for a grant to proceed to the third stage of the school refurbishment was unsuccessful, the school decided to go ahead and start on the Library, which was opened in 1978, but was already showing its technological age.
World Youth Day was celebrated in Toronto, Canada in July 2002, and the parish was represented by Luke O’Connor who, led by Bishop Brian Heenan and Fr Morgan Batt, travelled to Toronto with a group of young people from the Brisbane Archdiocese.
Luke experienced what he called ‘God moments’ on the journey. The first when he met with a young disabled pilgrim who had saved up his pension so he could make the trip even though he was unable to take part in all the physical activities. The second when he heard an inspirational sermon in a Quebec church where the priest linked the movie Star Wars to the love of God and developed the theme of “May the force of God’s love be with you”. The third was after waiting for the Papal Mass in pouring rain the sun came out for the Mass. In his homily the Pope said that we are the sum of the Father’s love for us. Do not let hope die. Stake your lives on it.
The newly refurbished school Library was blessed and opened on Thursday 3rd April, 2003 at 5.30pm by Fr John Kilinko. The late afternoon timing allowed people who were working to attend with their children. It is an indicator of changing times with so many families having both parents at work. Following the opening and inspection of the 21st Century electronic library a BBQ was held to provide an evening meal. There was a short, heavy rain storm but it did not interfere with the proceedings.
From the 1st to the 4th May 2003 more than 700 representatives attended the Archdiocesan Synod at St Stephen’s Cathedral and Clairvaux MacKillop College. St Flannan’s was represented by Fr John Kilinko, Paul O’Brien, Maryrose Hocken. Other parishioners present were Ray Campbell representing the Queensland Bioethics Centre, Kate McLean representing Brisbane North East Deanery and Jan O’Brien representing Religious Education Teachers in State Schools. Stephen Anderson was elected to attend representation the Youth but his work took him away and he was unable to attend.
The Catholic Leader (11/5/’03 p.1) reported that the Synod is expected to have far reaching effects on all the people of the Archdiocese. Its decisions have gone to the Archbishop who will announce “a set of future directions at a final gathering of synod members in St Stephen’s Cathedral on July 27.”
The work around the Church and School is never ending and much of it is still done by voluntary labour. A current example is the reorganisation of the parking arrangements for the church and school. This job, which involved extensive concrete works and traffic marking, was planned and directed by the chief labourer, Paul Hocken. Paul is one of the many dedicated, skilled voluntary workers at St Flannan’s. The new parking arrangements are to improve the safety of children and adults at times of peak traffic flow. What will the next job be?