On Friday 26 March, the Mass of Installation was held for Fr George Feliciouz as Parish Priest of Mansfield Catholic Parish. Friday’s celebrations were particularly significant, as Fr Feliciouz is now one of more than 90 priests to share in the life of one of Melbourne’s oldest parishes.

Situated in the High Country of Victoria, the Parish was established almost 160 years ago and takes in the churches of St Francis Xavier (Mansfield), St John’s (Woods Point), St John the Baptist (Jamieson), St Patrick’s (Bonnie Doon), St Joseph’s (Tolmie) and Our Lady of the Snow (the Alpine Chapel) on Mount Buller. It is located on the edge of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and shares its borders with Dioceses of Sale and Sandhurst.

When it was established in 1862, the local priest was living at Woods Point and the first parishioners were mostly Irish settlers, whose descendants still live within the parish. The first church at Mansfield was a wooden structure named St Mary’s and also became the parish school. In 1891, the Sisters of Mercy were invited to run St Mary’s Catholic Primary School. More than 30 years later, St Francis Xavier’s Church was built and replaced the old wooden church.

Archbishop Peter A Comensoli was the main celebrant of Friday’s Mass, who along with Fr Feliciouz, was joined by Fr Joe Caddy, Vicar General for the Archdiocese, Fr Patrick Bradford, Fr Anthony Girolami, Fr Brian Glasheen, Fr Daryl Monticello, Fr Vinh Nguyen, Fr Joe O’Shea, Fr Joel Peart, Fr Anil Mascarenhas and Fr Terrence Kennedy, who is a former student of the St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.

Following the Mass, parishioners, students and staff gathered at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School as Archbishop Comensoli blessed the newly refurbished Parish Hall and the new Macauley Study Centre of St Mary’s. The Centre is named after Sr Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, and a nod to the contributions made by the Sisters of Mercy over the year.