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Please help us save St Josephs Church Collingwood.

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joffa corfe 


Joined: 13 Nov 2003

PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 1:17 am
Post subject: Please help us save St Josephs Church Collingwood.Reply with quote

Save St Joe’s Collingwood

Mary Fenelon 0411 246 912, Barbara Sullivan 9419 2909, Tricia Sullivan 9417 7517, Helen Connors 9481 1907
Joffa 0407 545 228

A group of concerned parishioners is asking Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart to reverse the decision to pull down the walls of this historic building; these parishioners want a restored church to be built on the current site to accommodate the regular 200+ Sunday mass attendees.

The campaign meeting heard that Archdiocese has decided:
1. to pull down the walls of the burnt out church
2. to build only a chapel to accommodate 80 mass go-ers (with an overflow capacity of 80, using folding doors into the much reduced community centre)
3. to encroach on the space of the current vibrant community centre – The Wellington
4. to take some of the insurance money from the burnt out church to repay itself for refurbishment costs to the parish house, a refurbishment never requested by the parish. The then Archbishop George Pell offered, at a parish dinner in year 2000, to cover the cost of this refurbishment; this offer was noted at the time in the parish bulletin. The Parish never sought this loan as there was no way we could afford it. It was offered by the Archdiocese as support for our community, and gratefully accepted. Now all the money given by them, in paying back this loan, has been taken from our parish, plus interest! We couldn’t afford it then and we cannot afford it now!
5. to require the 200+ Vietnamese community, who regularly attend Sunday mass at St Joe’s, to move to another parish despite the fact that they have been attending St Joe’s for 30 years. This is their parish and home to their St John Hoan Community.
The parishioners believe the historic church must be rebuilt as:

1. The current mass-goers need a church. The parishioners, after more than 2 years in a draughty hall,
say ‘we want a real church’. The present use of the church hall/Wellington community centre is totally inappropriate for funerals, and no longer are weddings celebrated there.
2. Since the 1870s St Joe’s has been a missionary church with a strong commitment to outreach in the local area including the Collingwood housing estate. It is the place for so many locals to mark the births, deaths and marriages in their families.
3. Over the past few years St Joe’s has made a renewed commitment to meet the needs of the local neighbourhood and to youth outreach by forming a partnership with the Collingwood Rotary club to renovate and run a community centre in the old church hall; this centre is called The Wellington. The Rotary club contributed more than $200,000 to this outreach project. The Archbishop’s plan is to use part of this busy Community Centre for a chapel. The parishioners are adamant that the Community Centre must not be jeopardised.
4. This church, built by contributions from poor Irish families, has historical significance acknowledged by the National Trust. In 1860 Archbishop Gould appointed architect John Denny to design St Joseph’s Church. The architect of St Patrick’s Cathedral William Wardell persuaded John Denny to come to Australia; he also designed the Convent of the Good Shepherd Industrial School and St John the Baptist in Clifton Hill (1876).
5. Requests to meet with the Archbishop have not been successful

We want our Church restored as :
We need a Church that will accommodate all of St Joseph’s present parishioners.
We need to retain the community facility provided by The Wellington Community Centre.
We need the Archdiocese Business Management to honour the promises of their predecessors.
We don’t need the lengthy dislocation to parish community life that will result from reworking of the hall


COLLINGWOOD Catholics fighting to save their Otter St church have sought papal intervention after federal school funding effectively stripped the site of its heritage protection.

In a desperate written plea to Pope Benedict, members of Save St Joes - a group fighting for the fire-damaged 1861 building to be rebuilt - have accused the church hierarchy of treating parishioners with contempt and acting dishonourably.

Melbourne Leader revealed in June that the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne planned to demolish the church and would try to accommodate parishioners in a small chapel built in a neighbouring hall.

A Yarra Council heritage overlay had threatened to derail the church’s plans, but a planning loophole has put the building’s future under a cloud.

An email from council development director Bruce Phillips states neighbouring St Joseph’s Primary School, also owned by the church, had received Rudd Government funding for a new library.

Mr Phillips said the fact that the new library was being funded under the Government’s Nation Building program meant planning authority for the site now rested with state Planning Minister Justin Madden.

“In summary, the existing playground is in the location where the new library is proposed. Further, the proposal also shows the new playground in the location of the burnt-out church footprint,” the email states.

“These plans show the clear intent that the church be demolished, including the front facade, a small tower and some part of the eastern wall.”

In the letter to Pope Benedict, Save St Joes members questioned what had become of the multi-million dollar insurance payout the church received following the 2007 fire.

“The church was adequately insured - we had sufficient funds to rebuild our church but the archdiocese has taken a large portion of our money,” the letter states.

The group states replacing of the church with a small chapel would lead to the loss of programs supporting underprivileged Collingwood residents.

“In a nutshell, the archdiocese is making the wrong decision in this instance because it is not acting honourably, nor is it behaving in the true spirit of Catholicism and Christianity,” the letter states.

A spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, Jim O’Farrell, did not respond to claims in the letter but said the archdiocese was committed to meeting the needs of Collingwood parishioners.

“The archdiocese and the parish has at all times complied with legal and canonical obligations,” he said.

Anyone willing to help us fight to save St Josephs Church please contact any of the above people on the Save St Joe's Document. Or please contact me

We will be in the next day or two setting up an online petition. We will be collecting signatures outside Spring St and very much would like to speak with the planning minister Justin madden.

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