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Double celebration for Hectorville community


Hectorville parish celebrated 60 years of the Church of the Annunciation and 160 years of “faith, community and love” at a special anniversary Mass on July 2.

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More than 500 parishioners gathered for Mass celebrated by Archbishop Patrick O’Regan and concelebrated by past parish priests and current clergy.

Archbishop O’Regan spoke of the significance of the timing of the event in his homily.

From left – Fr Jeevan Gabriel, Fr Brian Ahern (from WA), Deacon Remo Patroni, Archbishop O’Regan, Monsignor David Cappo, Fr Peter Hosking (from St Ignatius College, Athelstone) and Fr Anthony Beltrame.

“It’s very gracious that our celebration today occurs midway through the year because we pause and think of the extraordinary lives on whom our lives are built, especially for the first 160 years, as we begin the next stage of our parish’s life,” he said.

Referring to the beautiful stained glass windows in the church and their depiction of the main elements of the Christian faith, he said what was particularly striking was “not the complexity but the intensity”.

“You are almost drawn into those stained glass windows, that action is not just something static, it’s something that actually brings us into it. And that’s what a parish and church does. It draws us into the very life of God. What we are doing today is giving thanks that God has been at work amongst us.

“While 160 years is not a long time in the big scheme of things, it is in our part of the world.

“We are richly blessed in all of the different people who have had that same leap of faith that we are professing today. From Sunday to Sunday they have gathered on the Lord’s Day around the table of the Lord…to remind us of what is important, to give thanks to God, to be Eucharistic people, not only for one hour of the week but for the other 167 hours.”

After Mass parishioners gathered in the St Joseph’s School hall for a multicultural lunch and entertainment hosted by the parish.

Parish priest Fr Jeevan Gabriel thanked everyone on this “beautiful, memorable and great day in the life of our parish”.

“I am grateful and thankful to the Almighty God our father for his abundant mercy, his blessings, favours and all that we have received over the past 160 years.”

He also thanked Archbishop O’Regan, Members of Parliament and the Campbelltown Mayor for attending the event, the jubilee committee for their work over the past six months, the Salisbury Filipino choir, sponsors and “every one of you who came and made this day a success”.

The celebrations included the launch of a history of the parish compiled by long-time parishioner Bob Rabbitt called ‘160 Years of Faith, Community and Love – Hectorville Catholic Community Commemorates 160 Years. 1863 – 2023’.

The history features stories provided by families, priests and parish groups about their involvement in the parish.

“We had a wonderful response with more than 40 stories,” said Bob, who began working on the project some time ago.

“Their stories are about our history and our faith community.”

Recent contributions to the publication reflect the multicultural nature of the Hectorville community which has been home to generations of Italian migrants, some of whom established market gardens in the area when they first settled in the district. Many of the original settlers have family still living in the parish.

The history concludes with a chapter on the story of the current Annunciation Church – the third in the parish – which was opened on December 23, 1962.

The original church still stands on the grounds of St Joseph’s School and has been renovated for use by the school and parish. As the parish outgrew the small church, plans were made for a new church opposite the school on North Street which was blessed and opened on August 18, 1917.

Bob thanked Margaret Ward, Judy Holling and the late Kevin Hannagan for helping with the first parts of the book as well as parishioner Josh Newnes who designed the book and Fr Jeevan for his support.

“Especially, I want to thank all of our priests and parishioners who have contributed to the book,” he said.

“This is a book written by the people of our parish about our parish.”

Writing in the history book, Fr Jeevan said the parish was committed to being “a community where everyone is included, and where everybody, young and old together, support one another to live the healthiest, happiest and most faith-filled live possible”.

He quoted Pope Francis: “The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration. In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelisers.”

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