A Brief History of the First 100 Years ~ 1905 - 2005 - written by Father Gerard O'Dempsey OFM Cap
In 2005, our parish celebrated one hundred years of praying, celebrating, reconciling, marrying, welcoming and farewelling as the Church celebrates the rites of passage of its members. One hundred years of prayers in a building seems quite trivial when one considers the ancient churches of Europe - places of worship that have been so for several centuries - and yet it is an important milestone in our time and place. We hope that in one hundred years time another parish priest will be writing something for the bicentenary book, that the descendants of this family of God will still be praying here, still celebrating, still doing all the things that mark our community as God's family, the body of Christ on earth.
At this centenary celebration we remember the characters that have coloured parish life in Wynnum during these one hundred years; Characters who have left their mark on the community for better or for worse. Most of them were people of their day and age working within the boundaries of society and church of a particular era. In some way they make this community the kind of place it is today. We want to take time in this year of our centenary to thank God for his presence and action in our world, especially in this part of the world called Wynnum. We want to remember God's loving plan being worked out through human agents who have strived to be faithful to what God asks of them.
Whilst much attention has been focused upon the church building of Guardian Angels and its refurbishment - the centenary celebration is primarily about people. And even though the church building is one hundred years old - of itself it is unimportant in the bigger scheme of things. Of greater importance is what has happened inside this building for one hundred years, of what has happened in the lives of the people who come here to pray, to celebrate, to reconcile, to welcome, to marry. Of greater importance is the sacramental life of the community of Guardian Angels. Even though the externals have changed many times - both in the church building and in the liturgy the essentials have never changed. For one hundred years we have opened the book of the scriptures and heard the stories of God's loving plan for humanity, the stories of Christ and his disciples, the stories of the early church. For one hundred years we have taken simple gifts, bread and wine, and prayed the great prayer of the Church over the bread and wine, our gifts have been transformed into the body and blood of Christ, food for our journey. For one hundred years we have led new members to the waters of new life in the sacrament of Baptism. For one hundred years we have anointed people with the oil of chrism, confirming them in their faith and sealing their baptism. For one hundred years we have joined men and women and their families in holy Matrimony. For one hundred years we have fare-welled our loved ones in the countless funerals we have celebrated. So for all these celebrations of God's family, for all these occasions of grace and healing we remember and we give thanks to God. When I came here in the year 2000 it was pointed out that I was the first Queensland born Parish Priest of Guardian Angels, Wynnum. The Capuchin Friars arrived here in October 1945 - it was the first place they came to in Australia with the intention of implanting the Order in this country. Thus 2005 marks not just the centenary of the parish but also the diamond jubilee of the arrival of the Capuchin Friars.
May this Centenary year be a time of grace and renewal for all who have been connected with Guardian Angels Parish. As we move into the next hundred years of Catholic presence in the Wynnum area may the Holy Spirit continue to overshadow us and may the love of Christ be present in our every undertaking. May we leave for those who will follow us a legacy of prayer, celebration and hope for the future. Gerard O'Dempsey OFM Cap
The souvenir booklet, “BACK TO WYNNUM”, published in 1933, gives the following account:
Prior to 1904 there were few Catholics residing in the district, and these were visited occasionally by priests from Brisbane. Father Dorrigan and Father O'Leary were the priests mostly remembered for making the long journey.
In 1904 a priest was appointed to serve as Parish Priest in the area. Reverend Father Thomas Enright celebrated his first Mass in the Wynnum Town Hall which then stood in Tingal Road. Though small, the congregation was enthusiastic and earnestly desired a church of their own to worship in. Funds were urgently needed if their dream was to be realised and the Catholic people of Wynnum still remember with gratitude the devoted work of Mr. Connolly, then Station Master of Manly, who so ably assisted Father Enright in this work.
The church site was a gift to the parish from His Grace, the late Archbishop, Dr Dunne, who purchased the site at a cost of £420. “I was down at Wynnum and Manly last Friday looking for a morsel of land, wrote Archbishop Dunne, and dropped on a piece of one acre, two roods and twenty-eight perches in a very central and commanding position”.
Most Rev. Dr. Dunne
Guardian Angels Catholic Church Wynnum, 2010
Negotiations were commenced for a building site, and the late Archbishop, Most Rev. Dr. Dunne, visited Wynnum and chose the block on which the Church, presbytery and school now stand. The work went forward to such a purpose that towards the end of 1904 arrangements were made for his Grace Archbishop Dunne to place and bless the corner stump of the new Church. Unfortunately, His Grace, through illness, was unable to attend, and deputed Father Phil. Corrigan for this honour. On a peaceful Sunday afternoon, at the close of 1904, this ceremony was performed.
In April, 1905, the Church was officially opened, taking but a year to bring their work to a successful conclusion. The architect responsible was the late Mr. Galley, and Mr. J. Little was the builder.
New alterations to Guardian Angels Church Wynnum, completed in April, 2005
Fr. T. Enright was responsible also for the building of the Presbytery and school, the latter being erected in 1914. The beautiful, spacious School building was designed by Mr. Richard Gailey (Architect), and the foundation stone was laid by His Grace Archbishop Duhig, on 3rd May, 1914. His Grace was assisted in the ceremony, by Rev. Fathers T. Enright, P.P., Father Dorrigan, and the Rev. M. O'Flynn. The School was opened by His Grace, 4th October, of the same year.
The Sisters of Mercy soon had a most striking Convent built directly across the street from the Church. It is a two-storey, brick edifice of bold design. The plans were drawn up by Messrs. Hall & Dodd (Architects). The convent was blessed and opened by His Grace Archbishop Duhig on the 8th August, 1915, and was appropriately named Mount Carmel.
Father Thomas Enright, to whom Wynnum Catholics owe a huge debt of gratitude, was succeeded by the following Parish Priests: Rev. Fr. Timothy Kelleher, Fr. John Hegarty, Fr. John Kelly, Fr. John Hennessy and Fr. John McCarthy. Fr. McCarthy was assigned to Wynnum parish in 1939. He was parish priest until 1945 when the Capuchins arrived.
On the 22nd October 1945, four Capuchin friars arrived in Brisbane from New Jersey, USA. Fr Accursio Rasi, to be the superior of the Capuchin Mission in Australia and Fr Gabriel Italia, to be the Parish Priest. They were to look after the parish of Wynnum. Fr. Anastase Paoletti was to look after the Italians, not only in the Archdiocese of Brisbane, but also in Toowoomba and Lismore. Fr. Egidio Scarpini was asked to go to the Diocese of Townsville for the Italian apostolate there.
The official farewell of the Parish Priest Fr. McCarthy and the official welcome of the Capuchins took place on 2nd November 1945 with a concert in the Parish hall.
In 1954 the Capuchin Order purchased a property at Wynnum West, next to the State School, as a House of Studies for Capuchin students, but later in the year, the friars found a property at the end of Tingal Rd Wynnum North; bought it and sold the other property. The Tingal Rd property comprised a very large old wooden house and eleven acres of ground. On April the 19th 1955, Fr Claude and five theological students including Fr Francis Merlino, arrived and began to clean up and renovate the old house. This took some time and the Blessed Sacrament was not reserved in the Chapel until the 8th June. In August, the verandas were closed in and on September 1st a “water closet” was installed in the house to the joy of all the friars.
In 1957 the old house was pulled down and a new two-storey brick Monastery was built and later blessed on April 27th 1958. In 1970, St Laurence Monastery, as it was called, became the Novitiate of the Order and Fr Carmel Flora moved in with 6 novices including Julian Messina, John Cooper and Alan Kennedy. The Novitiate was moved in 2000 to Sydney. The building was sold in 2002. The novices now go to Santa Ynez, USA for their year of novitiate and then later do theological studies in Melbourne.
In 2004 the Capuchins purchased a house at 92 Walnut Street Wynnum and renovated it to become Our Lady of the Angels Friary, which was residence for the friars of Wynnum for a number of years. When the Capuchins opened a second house in Brisbane - in Dutton Park - the friars sold and moved from Walnut Street back into the Presbytery.