St Joseph’s Northcote may not be the oldest parish in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, but it has been, and is, much loved by its community. The parish community celebrated its 130th anniversary of foundation in October with the theme ‘A faithful past, present and future’.

St Joseph’s Parish was established on 12 October 1893. Initially, the wooden church was in Arthurton Road, Northcote, and during the week was used by St Joseph’s Primary School. In 1917, the large brick church was opened on its present site in Westbourne Grove, and in 1919, St Joseph’s Primary School opened on the same site, facing James Street.

The church was renovated in time for the parish centenary in 1993. Over the years, the school has been renovated and new buildings added as the needs of the community have changed.

Parish priest Fr Shabin Kaniampuram IV Dei explains that in the early days, the parish was mainly a community of Irish Catholics. ‘People from many different countries now form our community,’ he says. ‘It is a joy to worship in a church where we are a community of faith and friends.

‘Our 130 anniversary Mass was a special community celebration. Our parish family, from the youngest of children to our elderly, came to celebrate. Our extended family of former parishioners and students were happy to be back, pleased to catch up with old friends, explore familiar places and reminisce over photos and other items from our history.’

At the anniversary celebrations, Fr Shabin especially thanked the principal celebrant of the celebratory Mass, Monsignor Tom Doyle, and encouraged those gathered to commemorate and celebrate this milestone.

Former parishioners and students were happy to be back, pleased to catch up with old friends, explore familiar places and reminisce.

St Joseph’s archivist, Maria Ang, also spoke at the celebrations, saying that both Fr Shabin and assistant priest Fr Dixon Kuriappilly ‘are respected and cherished by St Joseph’s community’.

‘We are grateful to all who helped in any way with this day of celebration,’ she said. ‘We thank our God for the blessings we receive as this community of St Joseph’s Northcote.’

Following Mass, parishioners gathered in the parish hall for tea and coffee and for a celebratory cake. A range of memorabilia from the parish and school over the 130 years was on display for the community to view and reminisce over.

St Joseph’s is part of the partnership parishes of Northcote and Thornbury, together with St Mary’s Parish, Thornbury, Holy Spirit Parish, Thornbury East, and St Anthony’s Parish, Alphington.

Banner image: Cutting the anniversary cake. All photographs by Brett Dickson and Vivien Stewart, courtesy of St Joseph’s Parish, Northcote.