Archbishop Mark Coleridge admitted he thought the decision to dedicate a church on Anzac Day evening was at first “quirky” before realising the connection between the events.
“Yet the sacrifice that is the very core of what we celebrate on Anzac Day is also the very core of what we celebrate here this evening,” Archbishop Mark said during his homily at Stella Maris Church at Maroochydore.
“On this day of remembrance we too consecrate this altar to be the altar of sacrifice and the table of the feast. Here we will say ‘do this in memory of me’, lest you forget, and we will remember with such depth and such power that what we celebrate becomes present. Jesus is here and now to be encountered in the sacrifice and in the feast.”
A capacity crowd gathered at the church, with its floor-to-ceiling doors folded back for the dedication.
Parish priest Fr Joe Duffy told the congregation that the church had been three years in construction, forcing the Maroochydore faithful to gather in the nearby Stella Maris Catholic School hall.
“This is a beautiful church that has been designed for the Sunshine Coast – we can fold back every door and take in the sea breezes from the ocean which is just a few hundred metres away,” Fr Duffy said.
“This parish draws in thousands of people every week through our churches and schools. The community has been very patient during construction. We met for Mass in the nearby school hall, stacking chairs after each gathering.
“The church is the beginning of a whole new direction for our parish. The building is the skin around the church – it is the skin that enables us to be the people who God wants us to be, ready to carry God’s message of love and mercy.”
Stella Maris is constructed on the site of the original church, built in 1922. The new design is part of a wider development with St Vincent’s Health and Aged Care. Some of the 124-bed facility overlooks a shared courtyard featuring a coffee shop and community hall.
“This is not a church in isolation,” Archbishop Mark said.
“The combination of a formidable organisation like St Vincent’s Health Care, who do such magnificent work in caring for the vulnerable, the sick and the frail, has come together with Joe Duffy, Fr Marty Larsen and all of those who have worked on the project, without which this could not have happened.
“This is a new form of collaboration, so it is saying something to the rest of the church as we move into a future where nothing can be quite as it has been in the past.”