Parish mission reaffirmed at 40th anniversary

south-woden-40th-anniversary-1Archbishop Christopher Prowse reaffirmed the mission of Mary Help of Christians South Woden (Pearce),  as the parish celebrated the 40th anniversary of the dedication of their Church of the Sacred Heart with a Mass and luncheon.

“By virtue of being called the Sacred Heart Parish it becomes a missionary parish,” Archbishop Prowse said.

“The Sacred Heart is the love of God given to us freely on a daily basis so that we can be messengers and missionaries of Christ’s love in our world.

“Today the missionary impulse of our Baptism is to go forward from this Mass to be Christ’s Eucharist in the world in which we live.”

During his homily, the Archbishop thanked the parishioners for their dedication and support over the years and for preparing the anniversary celebrations.

In particular, he paid tribute to the “tenacity and cunning” of Fr Ailbe Conway, the original parish priest, whose “pastoral energy and personal generosity are still spoken about today.”

Archbishop Prowse also reflected on “the great generosity and loyal support of the original parishioners who paid for the church in its entirety, through their legendary “housie nights” each Thursday evening in the early 1970’s.

The Sacred Heart Church boasts an impressive stained glass window which was highlighted in his Grace’s homily.

Archbishop Prowse made reference to all of the former clergy, including deceased parish priests Fathers Conway, Dominic Egan and Joe Rheinberger, who were remembered for their contributions to the parish.

The Archbishop forecast a busy 2017 for the Mary Help of Christians parish, under current parish priest Fr Richard Thompson.

“I am pleased to hear that the parish is wanting to re-launch the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults),” Archbishop Prowse said.

“We cannot really talk of a welcoming parish that does not have a vibrant RCIA team, because the greatest welcome we can give to people coming to this place is the welcome of Baptism.

“More people than we think come to Mass who are not Catholics (and) many people in the community are searching for God – more than we think!

“The faith and vibrancy of this parish should have a big open door to welcome them, if they wish, to make a formal enquiry to the Catholic Church with regard to possible initiation through Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.”

In addition to the return of RCIA in the parish in 2017, the parish is looking at building an office complex which will be attached to the parish hall. The project will include a 12 space car park.

Fr Thompson was on hand to concelebrate at the anniversary Mass with Fr Kevin Flynn also present, while a number of former parishioners returning to be part of the day.


Apologies were made by former parish priests Fathers Laurie Blake, Tom Thornton and Brian Ebert as well as current Deacon, Matt Ransom, who was occupied with ministerial duties in Cooma.

Speaking after the event, Fr Thompson said “the celebrations and the luncheon were designed to thank and honour all those who helped build the church and maintain it over the last 40 years.”

“We wanted to give something back to those who gave so much to build our community and it was an outstanding success, in every aspect”, he said.

The luncheon catered for 200 parishioners with a beautiful three course meal all prepared by parishioner Cathy O’Neill and her faithful team of helpers.

Parishioner Daniel Kenny, made the celebratory cake for the day and took photos of the ocassion.


A further highlight was the calling of a memorial “Housie” game, in memory of those who paid for their church by holding Housie games each week during the early 1970’s.

To read Archbishop Prowse’s homily in full go to: