Ave Maria, it’s a girl!
Revisiting St Brigid’s – contemplative beauty in a quiet corner of the city
By Marilyn Kerjean
The re-opening of St Brigid’s Church at Millers Point has made a Sunday stroll through The Rocks even more worthwhile.
The oldest existing place of Catholic worship in the country has been restored to make the best use of its simple sandstone and timber features, its modest size and its quiet location at The Rocks end of Kent St.
The tiny church was closed for three months while Stage I of the St Brigid’s restoration project costing $170,000 was carried out:
• A partition at the street end was removed to open up the unused space behind, improve the look of the back of the church and to let in extra light from the windows;
• The carpet was removed to reveal the dark timber floor. This was polished and light olive-green carpet runners were laid down;
• Timber was placed on the sanctuary floor to match the rest of the church floor;
• All the windows were replaced and sandstone window sills restored (the 40-year-old metal frames on the windows had rusted, causing the glass to crack);
• The PA system was improved and an audio loop installed for hearing impaired worshippers;
• New wiring and new lighting were installed and fans re-positioned;
• A new Reconciliation room was put in under the choir loft;
• The church interior was painted in cool shades of olive green, cream and touches of light grey.
Parish priest Fr Garry Reynolds (pictured left) says that 50-60 people attend Mass at St Brigid’s each Sunday.
“There’s a good sense of community at St Brigid’s,” he says. “It’s basically the church of the local residents at Miller’s Point although some people do come to Mass from other places because they like it here.”
St Brigid’s opened as a school in 1836 that doubled as a chapel on weekends. To mark the centenary of its foundation a second storey was added so the downstairs part could be used exclusively as a church.
At the re-opening Mass earlier this month, Fr Garry thanked all the people involved in the restorations.
Fr Robert Borg, parish priest of Chatswood, Fr Allan Connors, who has been associated with the parish for many years and Fr Ray Chapman, a current member of St Brigid’s pastoral team, concelebrated the Mass with Fr Garry.
Later this year Fr Garry hopes to begin Stage II of the restoration involving roof replacement, new upstairs windows and work on toilet facilities, drainage and courtyards as well as a community room.
So while the exterior of St Brigid’s is still not so good, inside is the ideal place for contemplation.
We recommend you drop in for Mass or for some quiet prayer before heading off for The Rocks Markets, the local restaurants and pubs or spectacular Circular Quay this Sunday.
Mass at St Brigid’s is at 9am on Sundays, after time for Reconciliation, and the church is open during the day for private prayer and reflection.