Corio/Lara Parish
St Francis Xavier & St. Anthony of Padua
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St Francis Xavier- 143 Bacchus Marsh Road, Corio, Vic 3214
St Anthony's -90 Kees Road, Lara, Vic 3212
Fr. Pius Kodakkathanath
(03) 5275 4120
Mon- Fri (9:00 AM- 2:00 PM)

History

This parish has been blest by the priests who have ministered to us since the Parish was created in 1976.

 Our first Parish Priest was Fr. Ron Lowe, who was Parish Priest from January 24, 1976 to January 30, 1988.  Shortly before being appointed to the new parish of Corio he had spent three years as a missionary in New Guinea where he used his mechanical skills to install a small hydro-electric generator for villagers.  Ron Lowe, a fitter and turner by trade, was a convert to Catholicism and on deciding to become priest returned to school at Assumption College, Kilmore to learn Latin before beginning his studies for the priesthood.  He was ordained on July 26, 1959. A humble man with a gentle nature he was well loved by all those with whom he came into contact. During Fr. Lowe’s time as Parish Priest he oversaw the building of the St. Francis Xavier School, the Presbytery at Corio and St. Francis Xavier Church at Corio as well as St. Anthony’s School, Lara

 When the Parish was created Fr. Peter Molenaar MHM (the first of the four Peters to be in the parish) was appointed as assistant priest.  Fr. Molenaar succeeded Fr. Van der Geest (who had been assistant at Norlane) as the Dutch chaplain for western Victoria.  Fr. Molenaar was a member of the St. Joseph’s Missionary Society, also known as the Mill Hill Missionaries because their motherhouse is situated at St. Joseph’s College, Mill Hill, London, and is Britain’s own missionary Society which was founded by Cardinal Herbert Vaughan in the late 19th Century.   Fr. Molenaar left the parish in 1984 to go to Bacchus Marsh to the Holland Australia Retirement Foundation from where he returned to Holland.  He died on January 14, 1993. 

 Fr. Peter Priestley (‘Peter the Second’) was the first curate appointed to the Parish in 1984.  He was well known for his love of planes, trains and snakes. During his time here he was engaged in many Parish Renewal Programs and was the first chaplain to the Antioch Youth Group (the second longest running Antioch group in the Archdiocese). A lasting memorial to him is the tapestry, designed by him and worked by Aly Bartels, that hangs above the baptismal font in Corio. On leaving Corio Fr. Priestley took up his appointment as Parish Priest at Daylesford.  He then spent a number of years as an Air Force chaplain before being appointed Parish Priest at Surrey Hills, which was later expanded to incorporate the Parish of Wattle Glen.

 ‘Peter the Third’ was Fr. Peter Murphy who came to the parish on January 31, 1987 and was the link between Fr. Ron Lowe and Fr. Denis Minogue.  Fr. Murphy was in the parish for less than three years and returned to the metropolitan area for a short time before volunteering to assist the Columbans in Peru.  

 Fr. Denis Minogue, from the Airport West Cluster, was the second Parish Priest taking up his duties on January 30, 1988. As well as his duties as Parish Priest he was for some ten years a member of the executive of the VCSA, for most of which he also served as Treasurer.  In addition, he was for many years involved with the National Council of Priests in executive roles and was responsible for the preparation and publishing of ‘The Official Directory of the Catholic Church in Australia’.  During Fr. Minogue’s time as Parish Priest the Parish Centre at Lara was built.

 Fr. Peter Wilson, ‘Peter the Fourth’, followed Fr. Murphy and was a curate from 1990 until 1992. He was the last curate in the parish. Fr. Wilson was a qualified dentist and would spend most of   his ‘days-off’ treating street kids and others in the St. Kilda area.

 In the early part 1993 Fr. Michael Moody (now Parish Priest at Melton) was ‘on loan’ to the parish for a number of weeks.  Among many parishioners he is remembered for his Harley motor bike and his dog.

 When Fr. Minogue was granted 12 months leave of absence Fr. Arnold Heredia was appointed to be the ‘Priest in Residence’.  Fr. Arnold arrived in the Parish on September 1, 2001 and remained until November 20, 2001 when Fr. John Healy took up residence as our third Parish Priest.  Fr. Heredia is now retired.

 A new era began with the appointment of Fr. John Healy.  Not long ordained and a former MSC Brother Fr. John came from St. Francis Xavier, Frankston and quickly made his mark on the parish.  His enthusiasm and drive resulted in a re-kindling of the spirit of the Parish reminiscent of the days of Fr. Lowe.  Fr. Healy was for a time, part of the Military Ordinariate of Australia, and is now Parish Priest at Laverton .  During Fr. Healy’s time as Parish Priest the St. Francis Xavier Church at Corio was consecrated and the Xavier Centre at Corio was built.

 With the departure of Fr. Healy the Parish welcomed Fr. Johnny Joseph MST.  Fr. Johnny is a member of the Missionary Society of St Thomas the Apostle (MST) which was formally inaugurated on 22 February 1968. Today it has a membership of above 300 priests and three large mission regions under her protection.  Fr. Johnny, who has been in Australia only a short time, was a member of the teaching staff at the Society’s seminary in India for many years.

 During 1997 the parish was honoured by the presence of a seminarian, Franco Cavarra, a former Opera Musical Director, during his diaconate year. During the World Youth Day celebrations in Sydney ‘The Stations of the Cross’ was directed by the then Fr. Cavarra. He was created a Chaplain of His Holiness for his role as Director of the Stations of the Cross at Sydney's World Youth Day.  Monsignor Franco Cavarra is now Parish Priest at Airport West, the same parish at which Fr. Minogue was Parish Priest before his appointment to this parish.

 

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