Parishioners from Bayside Catholic Mission gathered at St James' Church in Brighton on Tuesday 13 July for an official blessing of the cross which will be erected as part of the new church building. Construction on the new church began in 2016.

The site on which St James' Church stands is of great significance in the history of Catholicism in Victoria. In 1854, a mission to Brighton was established and covered the vast territory from Gippsland in one direction to Mornington Peninsula in the other.* The original church building of St James' Parish was built in the late 1800s and was one of the state's oldest churches.

A fire in 2015 completely destroyed the church building, with the roof collapsing and destroying the interior including the elaborate mosaics, stained glass windows, the altar, pews and the original Alfred Fuller organ.

Key stabilisation works have taken place in the years that followed the fire, including the installation of new stone walls and windows throughout the site and the placement of a new roof. This recent blessing of the limestone cross marks another step towards the rebuilding of the church.

Fr David Cartwright, Moderator of the Bayside Catholic Mission (to which St James' Church belongs), blessed the cross on Tuesday and shared that the project has been a source of excitement for the community.

'It’s a most significant moment in the rebuilding project. It's caused great interest in the Mission and brought much joy to the parishioners of St James.'

Construction of St James' Church is scheduled for completion in 2024.

*Information from the Heritage Council Victoria.