Parish of Alphington and Thornbury East.
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Office Address - 45 Railway Place
Alphington, Vic, 3078
Rev. Dispin John
9486 3633
Mon, Tue, Thu – 9am to 1pm

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A Welcome & Reflection from our Parish Priest Fr. Dispin John

In many ways the past year in our Parish has gone as you would hope and expect. For “in season and out of season’ we are “to carry forward the work of Christ, under the lead of the befriending Spirit”: that’s the reason we exist as a community of the Church. In other ways the past year has had its own characteristics, too. During this year, we have seen many changes in our parish life. Fr. Werner transferred from the parish after nearly ten years of good pastoral leadership at St Anthony’s, of which nearly two years were spent in partnership with Holy Spirit. His great ministry continues in the parishes of North Balwyn and East Kew. He is certainly missed. The departure of Kevin O’ Sullivan to work in the military as a Catholic chaplain has been felt by the parish too. Our wishes and prayers for his mission!

It’s nearly a year since I have been appointed to this parish of Holy Spirit and St Anthony’s. I came with hopes and expectations along with some concerns and fears too. Since this is my first parish as a Parish Priest, I knew life would be tough but you have made it easy with your love and warmth. You accepted me as your son, brother…I am very grateful. During this one year I have met people who have helped me grow as a person and mature as a priest. I strongly believe that a priest is molded and shaped by the community he serves. The community is greatly responsible in making a priest good and mature. In this regard, I am fortunate to have come to the right place where I am nurtured by people who care. I sometimes feel the negative reports and stories in the media about the scandals in the  wider Church and in particular in the Church of Melbourne affect me immensely. There were moments when I questioned my mission and       purpose of being a Catholic priest. Fortunately, my personal experience in the community of Holy Spirit and St Anthony’s has helped me overcome these doubts and confusion. Working with a great team of committed staff and so many good hearted volunteers makes my life a lot better. I am grateful for the friendship and guidance of Mgr. Tom Doyle who supports me in my ministry as a priest and helps in my growth. His commitment to our parish community and his humility always amazes me.

My particular focus this year has been with the school parents who are an integral and important  part of our parish  community. We are really fortunate to have two principals, who display and appreciate a great sense of faith and work hard to translate and transfer the same to the children and their parents. It feels good to have won the confidence of the children in our two parish schools. I am always delighted to see so much faith life flourishing in our schools thanks to our teachers who work with so much dedication and passion. In the past year, I have  encountered many parents who contribute their time and talents and commit themselves to improving life in our parish. During the preparations of the sacraments, we have shared faith and fun.

Over the past one year of my life here in the parish, I have cherished the love and acceptance of many parishioners. This has helped me to understand my priesthood in a positive light; there is a joy in being a priest, living among and serving the people of God, no matter what issues there are. Through the continual support of the many people I encounter during my day as a priest, I am reassured that God has sent me to the right place. 

Stories such as the following reinforce my belief that we are on the right path in our faith journey.

“We have bought a house in another area but would like to continue to come here to this church for weekend masses because this is where we feel that we belong”- a young couple who happened to come to St Anthony’s.

“I would like to baptise my child here at Holy Spirit because I believe this community will provide him the right environment to grow as a good Christian”- a young dad who was struggling and coming to terms with his own faith.”

I think the view of parish life has changed significantly over the past few years with so many changes both within the parish and the community in general. Understanding about ‘being a catholic’ has gone through some change too. People who come to our special liturgical celebrations such as Easter & Christmas, weddings, funerals, first Eucharist, Confirmation, first Reconciliation and Baptisms think and believe that they are truly expressing their catholic belief by being part of those occasions. We will continue to provide a warm and welcoming environment to all who come across our communities. Through this we will continue to be a witness to the compassion of Jesus who  welcomed strangers to his table and ate with ‘sinners and tax collectors’. May anyone who walks into our churches find us genuinely welcoming and deeply faith-filled.

The Parish - Mgr. Tom Doyle

From time to time it is opportune to reflect on realities and matters that can so   easily be taken for granted. Our Parish is one of these realities.  Alphington Parish of St. Anthony’s was established in 1915 Thornbury East Parish of the Holy Spirit was established in 1953. Today we still exist because of the faith, hope and love, the  efforts and support, the vision and sheer enormous dedication and work of the   laypeople, religious and clergy who have gone before us.   There are many of our active parishioners who have given so much of their lives to the mission of the church in these areas over so many of these years and who are still doing so.   We are called to carry on their work.

So it is a good, positive and hope-filled time, especially in this season of Easter to consider prayerfully : Who are we as a Parish?  What do we do as a Parish? Why do we exist and Why do we act as a Parish? What is our vision? Where do we fit in the big picture of the Melbourne Archdiocese and the Universal Church?

Who are we?   In the simplest of terms we are the disciples of Jesus Christ who in this 21st century  believe he came into our world, from a God who sent him because “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son” who lived, healed, forgave, gave life to others, who was so faithful to God and to the people to whom he was sent that in the end he suffered and died. And yet God raised him from the dead to New Life. And then sending us His Spirit, charged us to complete his Mission of bringing truth, justice, love and peace to our world.

It may sound grandiose but it is simple. We gather regularly in memory of Him to celebrate the Eucharist, listen to His word, celebrating his Eucharist and together working to make real his Gospel in our many worlds, homes, work, play, and politics - all of life.  This provides us with an answer to so many of the questions raised above. 

We are, as a parish, on a mission- that of Jesus Christ, to make His world a better place for everyone without discrimination of creed, race, social status, ethnic origin. We do this because we believe in Jesus Christ and try to live and bring about the Good news in our many worlds. It is the Gospel which is our vision. It is together that we go forth into our different worlds. It is together that we worship our loving God in and through His Son-participants in the Mystery of God’s love, acting together in the Mystery of life, our mundane, humdrum lives-yet because of Christ and in union with Christ,  they are lives which lead us into the overwhelming and eternal life in God.

This is our life, this is our destiny which we share with all believers in the Archdioceses of Melbourne and in whose Mission we share- in celebration and Liturgy, in Education, in support for Asylum Seekers, in pursuing justice for all, in advocating and caring for the welfare and protection of our environment and so on. We are part of a rich and compelling mission. This too is the mission and vision which we share with the universal Church under the leadership of Pope Francis.

I would like to share with you two quotations which indicate our vision.  One comes from the document of the  Second Vatican Council,  ‘The Church in the Modern World’.  “Inspired by no earthly ambition the Church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ Himself under the lead of the befriending spirit. And Christ  entered this world to give witness to the truth, to rescue and not to sit in judgment, to serve and not to be served.” (Par3)  Or as the Cardinal Archbishop of Manila said to a gathering of Bishops in Rome who were considering what the Church had to offer our world.  It was a hope filled and very realistic message. We live in a World, we are people of this world, and we carry forth the Gospel of Jesus.   

This is what the Archbishop said, 

“The Church cannot and must not pretend to have easy answers to the dilemmas facing men and women today. Instead it must be an attentive and listening Church-only in that way will people believe God listens to them too.”  “The Church must be a humble Church modeling herself on Jesus and being less preoccupied by her prestige and power in society.”  “People can resonate and see the concrete face of God in a Church that can be silent with them - can be as confused as they are, also telling them ‘we share your situation of searching.’ ”

This is the vision too for the Parish. This is how we share the joys and hopes, the sufferings and sorrows of the people we are called to serve as a Parish together: This is what the Holy Sprit and St. Anthony’s community of faith, hope and love, our Parish is all about.


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Holy Spirit Primary School
197 Clarendon Street, Thornbury East ,Vic 3071
Office
45 Railway Place, Alphington, Vic, 3078
St. Anthony's Primary School
52 Austin Street, Alphington Vic 3078
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