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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Our Lady of Mt Carmel restoration and dedication

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Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2024

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine in Waterloo is a jewel in the crown of the Archdiocese of Sydney, now restored to its former glory after the renovation of its stunning sanctuary.

Part of the Sydney City South parish, which also includes Rosebery and Redfern churches, the former spiritual home of Servant of God Eileen O’Connor was established by Archbishop John Bede Polding in 1859 and was raised to the status of a shrine in the year 2000.

Blessed but never consecrated, on 19 April Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP led the rededication of the church and its new altar.

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In his homily the archbishop prayed that “in this soon-to-be-dedicated church and on this soon-to-be-consecrated altar, the grace of God’s all-encompassing love, balm for every hurting heart, will be generously poured out on all those who come to this truly beautiful shrine.”

“Through the intercession of Our Lady of Mt Carmel may this city on a hill, this lamp on a lampstand, inspire all who see her and draw them closer to the light of eternity.”

The installation of a new altar and reredos, timber parquetry flooring, and a new baptistry area is a pleasing end to four years of work, originally needed to preserve the building, which had become affected by rising and falling damp.

Parish priest Fr Paul Smithers enlisted architect Sidney Rofe, builder Christian Abou-Rizk and carpenter Wayne Mavin to enhance the sanctuary, which was damaged by a fire in 1956 and never properly restored.

Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2024

“The people really wanted it restored and are all blown away by how great it now looks,” Fr Smithers said.

“People from all over Sydney still come to Mount Carmel, who had an association with it when they were growing up.

“It’s a great church for weddings and while, as the Lord said, a city on a hilltop cannot be hidden, it’s been a hidden gem as it’s surrounded by trees.

“As well as a monument to the vision of Archbishop Polding and shrine dedicated to Our Lady it’s an important pilgrimage place for those who want to better understand the charism of Eileen O’Connor.

“She sat in these very pews, so it has a lot of history and meaning for the Catholic Church in Sydney.”

Abou-Rizk, a parishioner of St Jerome’s Punchbowl, said being able to use his talents for the church was “extremely rewarding.”

“Churches are often a place people go to when they want to give thanks for their joys or go during their times of fear or grief, so I think to be able to recreate a space that allows people to have that sense of prayer and reflection in a space that is beautiful is important to me,” he said.

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