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Queensland’s oldest church turns 160

Queensland’s first church, and the oldest one still standing, turns 160 on May 12.

St Stephen’s Chapel, standing in the grounds of the Catholic Cathedral precinct, will commemorate 160 years to the day that Fr James Hanly first celebrated Mass there.

Current Dean Fr Ken Howell gave thanks that the chapel, designed by famous English architect Augustus Pugin, was still intact to witness the milestone.

“It’s wonderful that it is still here with us because it was threatened with demolition on several occasions,” Fr Howell said.

“Thankfully the church hesitated on that decision, and all credit to Archbishop Bathersby to take on the restoration of such an important historical building (in 1998), especially in this year of her canonisation when we recall that Mary MacKillop prayed and worshipped here.

“She would have done so whilst living in Brisbane between 1870 and 1871,” he said.

The chapel is still a vital part of city life, with Masses, weddings and prayer services held there frequently.

Only last weekend the chapel and the larger St Stephen’s Cathedral next to it were the venues for a record nine weddings in three days.

To commemorate the May 12th anniversary an 8am Mass will be said in the chapel, as well as the traditional 5.10pm Mass held there.

Released by Catholic Communications Office

May 11, 2010

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