Though separated by distancing restrictions, St. Mary’s Parish in Concord found a way to come together and celebrate the rich history of the 150-year-old parish and the Feast of the Assumption on 14 August.
While a church and school has existed on the site since 1845, it was in 1870 that St. Mary’s was established as an independent parish with the appointment of Fr Callaghan McCarthy as the first Parish Priest.
150 years later, and after many changes to the church and the school that share the site, Fr Paul Crowley is the Parish Priest, having been at Concord for over 25 years.
To celebrate the milestone, St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School family educator Leeanne Favotto, Principal Anna Marsella and Religious Education Coordinator Alicia Van Deventer, together with Fr Crowley, put together a fun day filled with activities and appreciation of their history, as well as moments of reverence reminding all of St Mary’s mission to open the hearts, minds and hands of students.
“Unfortunately due to COVID-19, all the parish-based celebrations for this important year have been postponed until further notice,” said Mrs Favotto.
“With this in mind we have come up with an inclusive way to combine our Feast Day, The Assumption of the Virgin Mary and highlight our 150th Year.”
Students at St Mary’s worked on artworks incorporating the theme of Mother Mary, the Assumption and the 150 year anniversary of the parish at Concord, some of which were put on display out the front of the school, allowing parents and carers to view the artwork despite not being allowed on school grounds.
“It is our way to reach out and share Mother Mary with others during these difficult times of isolation,” said Mrs Favotto.
“We are hoping to bring smiles to our community and remind them to pray to Our Lady to ask for Her support and strength.”
To celebrate the Feast of the Assumption, Year 6 students, along with student representatives from years 3, 4 and 5, celebrated Mass in the morning with Fr Paul.
Dr Fiona Martin MP, federal member for Reid, also attended the school for the special day, joining the students in celebrating Mass. The remaining students, unable to attend because of COVID restrictions, engaged in an in-class prayer service led by their teachers.
Each class was then taken on a short pilgrimage across the school grounds with Fr Paul to visit five newly created heritage plaques. The plaques, commissioned by the parish, highlight specific moments in its past, reminding students of the long history that connects them to the very first students and parishioners to attend the school.
The plaques, said Fr Paul, link the school back to the first church built in 1845, officially opened and blessed by Sydney’s first Archbishop John Bede Polding on 7 December ,1845.
That church was used as a single room school for 41 boys and 27 girls in 1846. It was the first school on the site and the ancestor of the current school which has grown to accommodate nearly 450 students.
“Our school community celebrations for the 150th Anniversary of the Parish were commemorated in a spirit of deep faith and joy for our community,” said Principal Anna Marsella.
“We feel so honoured and appreciative to have this rich history.
“To follow in the footsteps of the significant people of the past like the Sisters of Charity, priests and parishioners that have made our parish community what it is today: faith filled, strong and vibrant is very special.
“The school celebrations on Friday will be remembered for a long time by our students.”