History of St Carthage’s Catholic Church Gordon Park
A HISTORY OF ST CARTHAGE’S PARISH
In 1928, the then Parish Priest of Lutwyche, alerted Archbishop Duhig that there was a nice hill- top available in the new suburb of Gordon Park. Duhig purchased the block of some 28 allotments that made up the roughly triangular block of the hill top of Gordon Park with the intention of building a Church/School and later a Church and School.
He was able to purchase all the land available, except one block that shared the top of the hill. A young family had beat him to this prime position and did not want to sell, They lived there till their death in about 1970 when their children gave first refusal of the land to the Parish Priest, who very wisely snapped it up. There was also a road gazetted to bisect the block which Duhig was able to purchase during the next year or so.
The Archbishop also had to do a deal with the Franciscan Order as he had only recently sold them the Parish of Kedron. He had to take a bit back to create the Parish of St Carthage’s. Unfortunately it left the Parish with very little catchment area making it very difficult to expand. This created a problem for the first Parish Priest, Fr. John McCarthy. He had to visit every Catholic home he could find and urge them to come to their new Church in Gordon Park. Many of them had become set in their ways with the Kedron Church and were difficult to dislodge. Fr. John did not have an easy time of it getting settled and had to sell his car to pay bills, In and around the Great Depression times were pretty tough.
By 1929, the Archbishop had it all ready and built the original Church/School, according to the contract, in 13 weeks, through the then young Company, Concrete Constructions. The previous year, Duhig had opened the same building at Gin Gin and used the same design in Gordon Park with the Intention of later building a separate Church and allowing the school to have the use of the whole original building for a school.
Archbishop Duhig laid the foundation stone on 28th July, 1929 and celebrated the first Mass. [At the laying of the Foundation Stone there was only one motor car present, a big Buick driven by the Archbishop’s one arm chauffer. Everyone else walked.] The school opened 8th July, 1930 with 29 pupils [Eric Davis was No 10 on the roll] and had 79 pupils by the end of the year. Classes were conducted by the Sisters of Mercy who travelled over every day from Wooloowin. This arrangement continued till around 1964 when the New Church was completed and the school be- came the sole occupant of the school building.
It must have been a great relief to the parishioners not to have to climb the very high stairs, It was quite a challenge. There was a single file on the left hand side of each staircase at 8am as the 7am Mass goes filed out on one side of the stairs and the 8am Mass goers filed in on the other side. There were around 400/450 parishioners in those days and very few of the 7 o’clockers ever met the 8 o’clockers except at fetes.
By about 1970 the school was being taught by lay teachers and not able to keep up the numbers within our small catchment area. It was a sad day when it was closed in 1976.
As mentioned, Fr. John McCarthy was our first Parish Priest. He came from County Waterford in Ireland which is the final resting place of St Carthage in Lismore. Our second priest was Fr. Owen Hayes, who by inheritance, was probably, with his family, a multi-millionaire by today’s standards. They owned several large hotels in the City. During his tenure, Eric Davis was what he remembered as being Parish Treasurer and looked after banking etc. Whenever someone died in the parish, Fr. Owen would give Eric some money to bank saying it was a bequest from the deceased person. Over a period of years, Fr. Owen quietly paid off most of the parish debt. Eric said he doubted if anyone else knew of Fr. Owen’s generosity. There were no more bequests until the late 1990’s after Fr. Owen moved to another parish.
After Fr. Owen there were several more priests, but a crisis came after the death of Fr. Jim Conneely. Fr. William Ross was sent by Archbishop Francis Rush to run the parish while a decision was being made about its future. Eventually Fr. Phil Grace was appointed to be parish priest and Chaplain to The Prince Charles Hospital. He was followed by Fr. Michael Thomson and later Fr. Terry Madden, who stayed another 20 years until the Clustering of the Parishes of Wilston, Enoggera and Gordon Park under the leadership of Fr. Gary Russell in 2006.
In our most recent change we have joined with the Wilston parish and became the Good Samaritan Parish, initially under the leadership of Fr. Michael Grace and currently under the leadership of Fr. Leonard Uzuegbu.
St Carthage is not a well-known saint outside of Ireland although there have been about 37 Churches given that name in Australia with a Cathedral of that name in Lismore, NSW. Not all of these churches still exist. One of them had been just outside Crow’s Nest, near Toowoomba. St Carthage himself lived from 564 to 637 and founded large monastic institutions in Rahan, in Northern Ireland and later in Lismore, County Waterford in Ireland.
Parry Colborne 29-10-18.
Kedron Brook Catholic Community
23 Lovedale Street, Wilston QLD
Good Samaritan Parish
170 Kedron Brook Road, Wilston (enter via 23 Lovedale St)
115 Beaconsfield Terrace, Gordon Park
St John the Baptist Parish
St John the Baptist
133 South Pine Road, Enoggera
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
18 Halle Street, Everton Park