A spirit of gratitude filled the community of St Anthony’s in Marsfield when it celebrated its 75th anniversary recently.
More than 500 people gathered for the thanksgiving Mass and barbeque, and to reflect on “all the blessings received in the last 75 years”, said parish priest Fr Greg Cooney.
Many of those blessings relate to the Italian migrants who made their home in the northern Sydney suburb.
They inspired the naming of the parish church and school after the beloved 13th century Portuguese missionary to Italy, St Anthony of Padua.
“The outstanding contribution of the Italian community is one of the hallmarks of the parish,” Fr Greg said.
“Two important feast days in Italy, the Feast of Our Lady of Graces has been celebrated at St Anthony’s since 1956, and the Feast of Saint Francesco De Paolo, Patron Saint of Calabria, is also celebrated here.”
“But it has always been a multicultural community,” Fr Greg explains, “with members from China, Korea, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Tonga, and Fiji, welcomed to St Anthony’s”.
The Daughters of Charity have been a constant support to the community in the area since 1939 as well. Primary school captains carried their school candle during the entrance procession “as a symbol of the school’s involvement in the parish since its beginning”.
Sr Therese Haywood carried a photo of the original church and school, as the sisters have been regularly involved in both since 1939.
“We enjoyed being together, and that in itself is a great blessing. We have much to be grateful for and much to look forward to as we continue to grow as Parish community” says Fr Greg.
– Genevieve Conway