St Francis of Assisi MILL PARK
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290 Childs Road MILL PARK VIC 3082
Fr. Anthony Girolami
9407 6700
Mon to Fri – 9am to 5pm

History

A Short History but a Strong Tradition

 The first European settlers arrived in the district we know today as Mill Park around 1838 and they brought their Christian faith with them.

This district remained a rural community until the mid 1970’s and was part of St. Peter’s Parish, Epping.

With the development of the Mill Park estate the area was placed under St. Damian’s parish Bundoora. Local Catholics worked with the parish priest Fr. Patrick Creed to form a local catholic community. The first public mass in Mill Park was celebrated in the old bluestone church in Plenty Road (formerly the Janefield Presbyterian Church) on the 10th December 1978.

An immediate need was a Catholic primary school in the area. St. Damian’s Parish with the support of a Mill Park committee succeeded in opening St. Francis of Assisi School in February 1980. The next step was to have Sunday Mass celebrated in Mill Park. The local catholic community worked very hard to set up what we call today "The Hall" as an area for Sunday Mass in 1983.

In January 1985 Archbishop Little established St. Francis of Assisi Parish and appointed Fr. Eugene Ahern as first parish priest. The birth of the parish was marked with a wonderful Parish Day, the highlight being Mass celebrated on the back of a truck with a huge congregation gathered around.

Many remember fondly the early Masses in the "chapel" of the parish house then at 78 Roycroft Avenue – the chapel being actually the converted garage.

The spirit of the community was fostered by the open house and the social hours which brought our many nationalities together. The fellowship of St. Francis we alive and well in Mill Park. Highlights of those early years were the Renew Programme and the Journey Scripture Courses.

Perhaps the most talked about even was the Service of Fire, Light and Water on Holy Saturday Night 1985 which attracted a huge crowd plus eight fire engines called mistakenly because a neighbor thought the school was on fire.

Fr. Eugene engaged Sr. Judith Peart in 1987 as the demands for pastoral care increased. She did outstanding work in many areas of parish life for six years.

The present parish house was built in 1988 with the chapel which became a focus for prayer in the parish, as it was open 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

The church was opened in February 1995. The spirit of the parish was reflected in the design of the church. While reaching toward God in worship with the tower and its cross, the building was an expression of faith open to the community with outstretched arms of the colonnade.

In 1993 Sr. Patricia Robertson took over as pastoral associate in in July Fr. Ted Cumbo was appointed as our first assistant priest.

Deacon John O’Conner, (ordained in 1998) assisted between 1997 and 1998.

Fr. Albert Yogarajah came to St. Francis in 1998 remaining until 2001. Fr. John Pothiyittel followed him in 2001.

In 2003 Fr. Brendan Lane and Fr David Cartwright arrived to replace Fr. Eugene Ahern. Fr. Arsenio Tuazon joined Fr Brendan in 2006.

He was replaced in 2007 by Fr. Eugene Ashkar who did great work particularly with our young in the parish.

In 2009 the parish welcomed Fr. Anthony Girolami as our new parish priest after Fr. Brendan was appointed Rector of Corpus Christi Seminary College. Fr. Joseph Danh Truong also began his term as Assistant Priest until the end of 2011. Early 2012 Fr. Jossy Kizhakkethalackal arrived as Assistant Priest for one year, after which Fr. Varghese Kattikattu took over the role.

Since 2012, we are now the parish of both Mill Park and South Morang. During 2013 and 2014 the Church underwent major renovations and the re-opening of the refurbished church was held on May 17th 2014, celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart.

Presently the parish has Fr George Feliciouz as Assistant Priest, a full time Pastoral Associate Ruth Lees, a part time Pastoral Associate Sr Ignacia Coching, office administrators Bernice Quinn and Rachael Massouh, and a part time Youth Minister Carmel Walsh.

The St. Francis Window

This unique window was inspired by the Canticle of Brother Sun, written by St. Francis in 1225. "Praised be Thou, my Lord, with all Thy creatures, especially for Sir Brother Sun."

The window is itself a call to praise God, the Lord of creation. In twelve scenes it illustrates Francis' own journey to the glory of his King.

The twelve scenes from the life of St. Francis read from right to left.

1. Francis, "King of the Feasts"

Francis, born in Assisi in 1182, grew up to enjoy the good life with the young men of Assisi. He earned the name "King of the Feasts" for the way he could show them how to have a good time.

2. The Embrace of The Leper Seals His Conversion

Francis was already rethinking his life when he heard a voice telling him: "What you used to hate shall be to you joy and sweetness". He had hated nothing more than the sight of a leper. His embrace of a leper sealed his conversion from worldliness.

3. "Rebuild My Church"

Francis prayed: "Speak Lord your servant is listening". From the crucifix in the crumbling Church of San Damiano, a voice said: "Francis, rebuild my church for it is nearly falling down." With joy Francis gave first his money then his life to rebuilding this and other churches.

4. "I Have One Father In Heaven"

In April 1207 Francis stunned Assisi when in front of his father and the bishop, he stripped himself of all his clothes and declared he now had only one Father who was in Heaven. He literally left everything, took up his cross and followed Jesus.

5. "I am the Herald of the Great King"

This became his motto and proclamation first to the people of Assisi and then to the world. Those who had first laughed at him became to take the words of this poor little man to heart.

6. My Sister Birds

Francis' love of God's creation is famous. He preached to the birds: " My sister birds, you owe God much gratitude and ought everywhere and always praise him". He saw God's presence among his creatures. All creation led him to praise God.

7. The Submission of St. Clare

St. Clare followed the example of Francis and embraced poverty. In the tiny Church of the Portiuncula she exchanged her fine clothes for a rough robe like he wore and wooden sandals. Francis cut off her hair and she promised obedience to him as her superior.

8. Pope Innocent III Gives His Blessing

In 1210 Francis went to Rome to obtain the Pope's blessing. Pope Innocent stunned the cardinals: "This is the pious and holy man by whom the Church of God will be restored." He embraced Francis and blessed him: "Go with God and announce salvation for all."

9. A Missionary of Peace to the Moslems

Francis went to Damietta in Egypt in 1220 where the Christian Crusaders were locked in battle with the Moslems. He did not hesitate to make his way to the Moslem Sultan of Egypt to preach his King, Jesus Christ. He won the respect of the Sultan who recognised his peaceful spirit.

10. Francis Dramatises the Christmas Story in a Living Crib

At Greccio in 1223 Francis put together a living Christmas crib with a real baby and living animals. At the Christmas Mass Francis served as deacon, for Francis never was a priest. He preached the most moving sermon on his King, the Child of Bethlehem.

11. Francis Shares the Wounds of Christ

In a moment of intense prayer focusing on the sufferings of Christ an angelic seraphim bearing the wounds of a crucified man was seen by him. After the vision Francis now bore the wounds of his King on his hands, feet and side. He was the first to bear what is known as the stigmata.

12. Francis Embraces "Sister Death"

Surrounded by his disciples in the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli he proclaimed: "Praise to you, Lord, for our sister death whom none can escape. My soul is at peace. I am prepared to meet her." As he breathed his last in 1226, a flock of larks flew over forming a cross.

The window is the work of the Melbourne artist Christopher John. His other works in this church are the great Cross Window high above the altar and th. It responds to the call in the architectural brief for an expression of Christ in glory. This window highlights the victory we have in the Cross of Christ.


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