On Sunday 4 December—the Second Sunday of Advent—St Benedict’s Parish Burwood marked its 70th anniversary at a special Mass celebrated by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli. As parishioners and well-wishers gathered to give thanks for the life and legacy of this vibrant community of faith, the sense of joyful celebration and gratitude was palpable.
Initially part of the parish of Box Hill, a church hall was opened on the site in 1931, followed by St Benedict’s Primary School, which opened in 1941. But it was not until 1952—70 years ago this year—that St Benedict’s became an autonomous parish, operating out of the school building until the current church was constructed in 1958. Since then, the church’s light-filled interior has been renovated twice, but the building’s original structure and distinctive mid-century façade have remained unchanged—a familiar landmark on Warrigal Road.
Over its history, St Benedict’s has been served by a series of faithful and dedicated priests, most recently from the Missionaries of God’s Love, who took responsibility for the parish in 2006. Committed to shining the light of Christ into the wider community of Burwood and beyond, St Benedict’s priests, assistant priests, leaders, volunteers and parishioners have all worked together through the years to build a local community of grace that continues to thrive and serve its neighbours in creative and fruitful ways.
As the anniversary edition of the Burwood Bulletin says, ‘St Benedict’s is known for being a welcoming place, accepting and open to people from all walks of life.’ Its strong community focus is expressed in a variety of outreach programs, including programs for seniors, refugees, youth and the disadvantaged. In recent years, over 61,000 subscribers from across the world have tuned into the parish’s YouTube channel.
In his homily, Archbishop Comensoli drew on the gospel reading to explore the idea of ‘kairos time’—an understanding of time that is less about linear progression or chronology and more about the timely fulfilment of God’s purposes.
‘Faith teaches us to seek to live our lives in a kairos way,’ he observed, even as our lives unfold in chronological time.
‘God has a plan for each of us. It involved the incarnation—the becoming flesh—of his Son, announced by the Baptist. We each have a place in this story of salvation; Jesus took each of us with him onto the cross. We are a part of God’s kairos plan and the nearness of his kingdom. And this is very good. Your moment—our moment—in Christ is ours to take.
‘St Benedict’s Parish, over its 70 years of history, has very many moments in time worth remembering,’ he said. ‘But each of those moments, set in their chronological order, come alive and present when we see them in their kairos meaning: a baptism in 1953, or First Communion in the 1980s, or the fundraising for World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008, or the introduction of the Alpha course in recent years, or the outreach to a family in need during COVID.
These are all kairos moments when the closeness of God’s kingdom has been revealed in your time and place. From these moments, God has been, and is, raising up children for his Son among you. So may you rise up with Jesus in this moment of your 70th birthday, seeing this as your advent time, your coming to share in the life of Christ. Happy Anniversary!
After Mass, parishioners gathered as a special birthday cake was cut by Archbishop Comensoli, and the festivities and fellowship continued over morning tea.
Celebrations for this milestone anniversary began on 29 October with a dinner dance, and have also included history displays in the church and the sharing of memories during Mass. A commemorative book will shortly also be available.
Melbourne Catholic28 February 2024
Melbourne Catholic27 February 2024