House debates

Monday, 25 November 2019

Constituency Statements

Berowra Electorate: Churches

10:45 am

Photo of Julian LeeserJulian Leeser (Berowra, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Yesterday I attended the opening and dedication of the new St Madeleine Sophie Barat Catholic church building at Kenthurst by Bishop Vincent Long. The church has been led by the much-loved Father Vincent Savarimuthu, whose tenure at the church has been extended for another six years. The opening of a new church building is a sign of confidence in, and hope for, the future. The church is the culmination of 20 years of work by the community, who wanted to create a more permanent sanctuary. The original building was always more of a church hall—attached to the local parish schools—than a sacred place of worship.

The driving force behind the church was the late Maria Aiossa: a woman of great passion, a leader of the local Italian community and a great fundraiser. Her husband, Joe, donated the altar in the new church in her memory. The project was led by the chair of the parish council, Patrick Tuttle. He was supported by Michael Parslow, the head of the finance committee; Stuart Bennett and Pierre Coppini on the construction committee; and Darren Grech, the project manager. The new church—with its inspiring timber carvings and Australian motifs, like a boomerang-shaped window—was designed by Charles Glanville and built by Tony Falcone. The church was supported by the Parramatta diocese—led by Bishop Long, Geoff Officer and Father Peter Williams—and the Parramatta Catholic Education group, led by Greg Whitby and Mark Holyoake.

The new church is not only functional but beautiful, and I hope it provides years of worship and inspiration for our local Catholic community. Congratulations to the community of St Madeleine Sophie Barat.

Mt Colah Uniting recently celebrated its centenary with a special service and afternoon tea. Mt Colah Methodist Church was opened in November 1919. At this time, Mount Colah was on the rural fringe of Sydney. The church was surrounded by orchards. Mount Colah township consisted of the church, the police station and the post office. In 1965 a new church hall was built. In 1977, with the formation of the Uniting Church, Mt Colah Methodist became Mt Colah Uniting. By 1989 the congregation had outgrown the original church building, so the Sunday school was moved to the church hall, which was also home to Mt Colah Preschool. In 1994 the original church building was demolished to make way for a new worship centre, opened the following year by Reverend Cornwell. The present minister, Reverend Nich Cole, is also chaplain to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service. I have attended a number of services where he has presided. He's an exemplar of what a good minister should be: well formed in his faith, with great compassion, humility and warmth.

Over the past century, Mt Colah Uniting has not only been a place of worship but a place of meeting, at various times providing a timeout centre for young mothers or a hub for young people. In 2015, the Mt Colah Neighbourhood Garden was also established on the church grounds, to provide communal space to grow food and other plants for the community. With a local Anglican church, the church has established a 'chat in English' group to provide opportunities to people who have English as a second language to improve their English together. Thank you, Mt Colah Uniting, for a huge contribution to our community, and all the best for your second century.