St. Joseph's Chelsea Parish
Delete photo - St Josephe.JPG
Are you sure you want to delete this?
St. Joseph's
362 Station Street, Chelsea, Vic 3196
Rev Kevin Williams
(03) 9772 2211
Tue, Thu, Fri – 9am to 2pm


St Joseph's Church

St Joseph’s Church was erected in 1940, and blessed by Archbishop Daniel Mannix on 5 January 1941.  So many people came that the ceremony was held in the grounds of St Joseph’s School.  Chelsea was then part of the parish of Frankston, and the Parish Priest at the time was Fr Gerald Fitzpatrick.  He became the pastor of Chelsea when it was separated from Frankston in 1951.  St Joseph’s Church was consecrated by Archbishop Little on 5 August 1977.  Archbishop Hart consecrated St Joseph’s on 20 March 2009, restored after a fire in the early hours of 16 August 2006.


The architect of St Joseph’s Church was Cyril Kelly.  Kelly became a popular architect in Melbourne.  St Joseph’s was his second church (the first being Holy Spirit, Manifold, Geelong).  St Joseph’s has many art deco features, (an innovative style of art and architecture in 1920s, 1930s).  This can be seen in certain decorative elements e.g. the use of geometric patterns (triangles, rectangles, squares, etc).  The church has a classical Roman or ‘basilica’ floor plan – note the rounded apse, the transepts, the nave.  Wooden roof beams resemble the inside of a ship (a classical feature) as well as an Angl0-Saxon meeting hall.  The amber and purple windows are like so many jewels that glisten in the light. There is a sense of solidity and permanence, as well as light and playfulness.

A Visit to St Joseph's Church

When we enter the church, we cross a threshold from ordinary life and our everyday world into the House of God.  When we make the Sign of the Cross with holy water at the Church door, we remember that we became a member of God’s  family, through Baptism “in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”.  We move into the Church via the narthex – in ancient times, a gathering area for catechumens and penitents unable to participate at Mass.


On the wall, the original foundation stone commemorates Archbishop Mannix’s visit in January 1941.  A new stone records the recent history of St Joseph’s Church.  Beside these is St Joseph’s Parish Crest (2002).  The crest includes the following motifs:

  •  Pelican, a medieval symbol of Christ in the Eucharist, who feeds us with his own Body and Blood.
  • Our Lady  and St Joseph
  • The shell, the fish and the boat on the waves signify Chelsea’s coastal setting, as well as recalling baptism (the shell), the ark of salvation and the barque of Peter (the boat) and the fish, an ancient symbol of Christ (Greek ICTHYS – Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour).

  • “Duc in Altum” (Lk 5: 4): Pope John Paul II’s call to the whole Church at the beginning of the 3rd Christian Millennium “Put out into the deep for a catch”.


    The people take their part in the liturgy from the pews or seats.  This area of the Church is called the nave (Latin navis ‘ship’).  The roof beams remind us of this idea – they look like the inside of a great ship.  The blue plasterwork in the ceiling reminds us of the sky.  We are under heaven.  In many Eastern churches, the ceiling is painted dark blue and decorated with stars.


    The ceiling panels are decorated with white lace-like features that look like Wedgwood (18th Century English pottery).  This is an art deco feature.  The beams seem to be held together by silver strapping.  The highlighted frieze above the base of the ceiling  is also an art deco feature.


    The focus of the liturgy is the sanctuary or apse.  This is semi-circular, like a Roman basilica.  Basilicas were public buildings in ancient Rome, used as courthouses.  During the time of Emperor Constantine (+337), the church adopted the basilica design for its own use.  There are many churches in Rome that date from this time.  The basilica style is a good, open space that adapts itself easily for the celebration of Mass. St Joseph’s Sanctuary is decorated with 7 “porthole” windows – with symbols of St Joseph, Our Lady, the Passion, and the Eucharist.  These are original, as are the two magnificent windows in the transepts, depicting the Holy Family and a crowned MR (Latin Maria Regina – ‘Mary, Queen’).

The 12 candles on the walls remind us of the 12 Apostles, and the 12 gates of the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev 21: 21).  They are lit on the anniversary of Consecration and major feasts. 

The golden lamp recalls St John’s vision of the heavenly city described in the book of the Apocalpyse (21: 23).  Its light is a permanent sign of the presence of Christ in the Tabernacle.

The lectern features  icons of the Evangelists.  This is the work of Melbourne iconographer Geoffrey Horgan. The Sanctuary also includes other work of Geoffrey Horgan: a large icon of the Saints whose relics rest in the altar, and 2 icons of the 20th Century Popes Saints John XXIII (+1963) and John Paul II (+2005).

The chair includes an image of Christ the Teacher;  the Tabernacle shrine a bronze of the Pelican feeding her chicks, and the Altar a bronze of Christ the Passover Lamb; the lectern includes symbolic images of the 4 evangelists. The ceremonial doors commemorate 100 years of Catholic life in Chelsea. All of these, along with the lid of the baptism font, are the work of Melbourne artist, Bart Sanciolo.

The shrines of Our Lady of Lourdes and St Joseph honour our parish patrons.  The silver lamp at St Joseph’s Shrine is the gift of St Joseph’s school children and families.
St Joseph is depicted in traditional colours.  His brown cloak suggests his humility.  Underneath, he wears a rich purple tunic.  This is Davidic purple – a royal colour, because St Joseph belongs to the royal house of King David (Mt 1: 20).
Our Lady appeared to St Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes in 1858.  Our Lady lifts her eyes, her hands joined in prayer.   St Bernadette described what she saw:
 “One day, when I had gone with the two girls to collect wood by the bank of the river Gavé, I heard a sound.  I turned toward the meadow and saw that the trees were not moving at all.  I looked up and saw a grotto.  And I saw a Lady wearing a white dress with a blue sash.  On each foot she had a yellow rose; her rosary was the same colour”.
Water depicted at Our Lady’s feet recalls the spring that Our Lady showed to St Bernadette.  Millions of pilgrims visit Lourdes each year to wash in this water which has worked miracles of healing.

On 7 December 2008, Bishop Peter Elliott crowned the statue of Our Lady, to mark the 150th anniversary of her apparitions at Lourdes. Near Our Lady's statue is a  hand-painted icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, a copy of the original in the Redemptorist Church, Rome (blessed by Bishop Elliott 2012), and a photograph of St Bernadette.

The Holy Oils are kept in an Aumbry. The glass door presents the image of the dove carrying an olive branch in its beak. This recalls the story of the dove which returned to Noah, leaving an olive branch, a sign that the Flood had receded. (Gen 9:11-12).



Fr Gerald Fitzpatrick Pipe Organ

The Fr Gerald Fitzpatrick  Pipe Organ was installed in 2011, and blessed by Bishop Elliott.
The organ was built by Charles Taylor and staff for the Presbyterian Church, Kew.
It came to St Joseph's, from the Uniting Church, Brunswick.
A photograph of Mr Taylor and staff is located near the console.


The relics of these saints rest in the Altar of  St Joseph's Church




+ 90

Louise de Marillac

+ 1660


+ 97

John Baptist de la Salle

+ 1719


+ 253

Paul of the Cross

+ 1775


+ 258

John Vianney

+ 1859


+ 754

Catherine Laboure

+ 1876

Teresa of Jesus (Avila)


Pope Pius X

+ 1914

Vincent de Paul

+ 1660

Maximilian Kolbe

+ 1941

© Copyright 2020 POL.ORG.AU