For 50 years, Holy Eucharist Catholic Parish in St Albans South has been the spiritual home of many local families in the area. On Sunday 20 March, parishioners gathered to mark the parish’s golden jubilee anniversary, beginning with Mass celebrated by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli followed by morning tea and entertainment provided by the parish’s various multicultural groups and choirs.

Holy Eucharist Parish was officially established in 1972, with the first-ever Mass taking place at 9am on Sunday 19 March. At the time, the church building was still being completed, with the windows yet to be fitted and the lights not yet installed. However, this did not stop the then-parish priest Fr Tony Guelen and the local community from giving thanks for their new place of worship. Hundreds of locals attended that first Mass, in a church that was designed for the future, with room for more than 450 parishioners. A month later, Archbishop James Knox arrived to bless the new church, the parish hall, the presbytery and the religious instruction centre.

St Albans South has always been a growth area for Melbourne, and in the early 1970s, Fr Guelen employed Sr Eugenius (Eugenia), a Josephite Sister, to help with religious instruction classes in the local state schools. There was no local Catholic school at the time, and so Fr Guelen and Sr Eugenia would conduct up to 13 classes per week for children in grades 3 to 6. In April 1975, the Holy Eucharist Parish Primary School was finally built, with the local Sisters of Mercy providing the teaching staff.

One of the many highlights for the locals of St Albans was undoubtedly the visit of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla – the future Pope Saint John Paul II – in February 1973. The Cardinal was in Melbourne for the 40th International Eucharistic Congress, and during his visit, celebrated Mass at the nearby Sacred Heart Church.

Since its inception, Holy Eucharist Parish has been home to Melbourne’s burgeoning migrant community, and this remains so today. The school has close to 400 children whose families hail from Vietnam, the Philippines, mainland China, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Sri Lanka, southern and central America and Europe. And in its early days, the worshipping community was composed mainly of families of Maltese, Polish and Irish-Australian heritage. These days the Sudanese, Samoan, Maltese, Polish, Vietnamese and Filipino communities all contribute to the vibrant life of the parish. As the parish itself acknowledges, ‘We are many, but we are “one in Christ.”’

In his homily on Sunday, Archbishop Comensoli praised the community for their commitment to walking together on the journey of faith. ‘The 50-year story of Holy Eucharist, St Albans, is full of the stories of families and individuals, and a community, that has walked together over generations,’ the Archbishop said.

‘All of these stories are the stories of God among you, of God near to you, of God accompanying you. Treasure them, for they are yours to learn from, and grow with. They are the stories of your common life in Jesus Christ. Happy golden jubilee!’

Photos provided by parishioners of Holy Eucharist Catholic Parish, St Albans South (Facebook/Holy Eucharist Parish Church).