Church consecrated after 94 years

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Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP addresses the congregation of St Joseph’s last weekend. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP addresses the congregation of St Joseph’s Rosebery. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

After 94 years, St Joseph’s Church at Rosebery has finally been consecrated.

Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher OP, celebrated the Solemn Mass for the Dedication of the church last month, described as one of the most ancient and beautiful ceremonies yet witnessed by very few.

Concelebrated by parish priest Fr Paul Smithers and attended by Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore, Archdiocese of Sydney Chancellor Chris Meney, executive director Michael Digges and financial controller Michael Moore, the church was dedicated after being opened by Archbishop Michael Kelly back in 1927.

Under canon law at the time, a church could not be consecrated until it had been fully paid off to avoid a bank foreclosing and then owning a consecrated building, yet quite often once debt free, the consecration was something that was often over-looked.

“Due to all the wet weather over the past few weeks, certain works couldn’t be done, but God was smiling on us and we got it finished just in time …”

The inner-city church, part of the newly established parish of Sydney City South following its merger with Waterloo and Redfern, can now not be sold and must be used solely for worship and prayer.

It has undergone extensive renovations this year with a new altar, lectern, sanctuary, painted icons, a re-modelled baptistry and confessional, a 24-hour chapel, as well as renewed carpets and painting.

A new early learning centre, parish office and community space have just been completed and work is about to start on a new primary school.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP anoints the altar of St Joseph’s in Rosebery with Chrism as he consecrates the church last weekend. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP anoints the altar of St Joseph’s in Rosebery with Chrism as he consecrates the church. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

In what he described as a “labour of love”, Fr Paul said he was filled with emotion following the consecration.

“People were commenting on how beautiful the church looks, which for me really was so overwhelming,” he said.

“It has been a lot of hard work and the fact we had it finished it in time for the consecration was a miracle.

“Due to all the wet weather over the past few weeks, certain works couldn’t be done, but God was smiling on us and we got it finished just in time … During the Eucharistic prayer, I must admit, I did choke up a bit and felt very emotional.

““It has been a lot of hard work and the fact we had it finished in time for the consecration was a miracle.”

“It has been a lot of work pulling this together and I am so proud of what we have not only achieved so far, but what we have planned for the future.”

Occupying just 4km of land, the new inner-city parish comprises a unique demographic of government housing, exclusive private real estate and everything in between.

Also significant to the community is Australia’s next saint-in-waiting Eileen O’Connor who not only lived in the parish, but went to school and worshipped there.