Our Lady Help Of Christians Parish Epping Celebrates Centenary

Most Rev Peter A. Comensoli: officiated at this wonderful celebration of Gathering together, Colourful Eucharist, Warm Conversation, Delicious eats, Gleeful play, Historic display of the past, Friendships renewed, Old memories cherished and new memories to be filled with hope for the future of our faith in Jesus.

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Mary Flook -the eldest parishioner, Jessica Pham - the youngest OLHC Primary student, Ann Moore - the Centenary Cake-maker

The significant symbol in memory of this 2016 celebration is the striking Picture Mosaic
 of Our Lady of the Southern Cross – Help of Christians. (Artist: Paul Newton NSW 2008)
This special artwork is composed of 4,000 photos of parishioners past and present and was
conceived and put together by members of the Centenary Parish Committee,
especially Fr Peter Dowd PP Natasha and James Boswell & Leonie Martin RSM together
with a final professional assembly of all the elements.

Image: Bishop Peter blessing this sacred work of art with Fr Peter Dowd PP to his left side in the background.

The record of history on this day, was most appropriate in the expression of the human element of the parishioners’ photos, within the image of Mary, Our Lady Help of Christians. As Church Community it is very significant and creates a further sense of belonging to the Divine and to one another.
The Aboriginal First Australians who belonged to this Land were from the “Wallumedegal” people.
29 May 2016, was the Centenary Celebration for OLHC Parish Epping NSW Australia. The historical date of the foundation of the church was 15 June 1916.
The district of Epping was established in 1882 and before this was known as the Barren Ridges Convict Settlement. The Epping Catholics were having to walk to Mass at St Charles Ryde – in all weathers! Even the Sisters of Mercy from Ryde who taught at OLHC Primary, at times had to walk that journey in reverse – strong and good women!

Image L-R: Sr Margaret Chaplin rsm, Sr Pauline Smith rsm, Sr Margaret Smith rsj, Sr Mary McEnearney rsm.

The Eucharistic Celebration was truly the “Vine & the Branches” story with just SO much diversity, creativity, faith, music, colour, fashion and expressions of LIFE – all in harmony & unity. An amazing Spirit of Joy, Hope, Gratitude & Presence of the Divine oozed out & continues to nourish us. All expressions of the Church Community and strongly supported by Mary Hor, Principal of the Primary school, the Students & Parents and Friends on this day as well as in many activities beforehand.

Natasha Boswell & Kevin MacDonald were efficient and considerate coordinators of the Centenary Committee keeping their eye on all of the overall details and communication open between all & documented very well.

Image: In expectation: The Procession to begin the Celebration of the Centenary

Every aspect of this celebration and the attention to detail was a fine tribute to the valiant Fr Peter Dowd PP, the Centenary Committee and the volunteers they recruited and all the many people who made efforts to attend – including dignitaries and politicians to the newest-born babe – they were all the gorgeous tapestry of the Centenary and specially to mention the exquisitely beautifully sunny day - what a joy and surprize as the day before was wet and cold. We ‘had’ to believe that this was a special blessing of affirmation!

Image: To the left: Mary McEnearney RSM speaking with her sister Margaret

“Music: the joy of life” was a highlight with a great choice of hymns and a musical choir in full voice led by parish choir-master Jonathan Kish and an eclectic bunch of instrumentalists and singers. I was privileged to be able to join them as a past parishioner and as a member of this exceptional Centenary Committee.

Jonathan with the choir and instrumentalists – all were enthusiastic and joyful about attending rehearsals. Bishop Peter as he arrived came over to us & gave a delightful & enthusiastic comment on musical atmosphere. (End of 2nd seat Leonie Martin RSM).

“Gather your people O Lord, One Bread, one body, One spirit of love. Gather your people O Lord” (Bob Hurd)


Margaret & Nicholas Pedemont 1916        

 Right hand side of the Church the Pedemont family 2016

A unique blessing was given to us with the presence of 4 generations of the Pedemont family. They made up a large party for the Procession of the Offering of Gifts and received a special blessing from Bishop Peter. In 1913 Margaret & Nicholas Pedemont the 1st generation at OLHC were very keen leaders, among the then parishioners responsible for initiating an official Petition for a specific Epping parish…& the family is still here 100 years later. Alleluia!

Fr Peter Dowd PP delivers his enthusiastic Centenary Speech

“Draw us forth to the table of life: brothers and sisters,
 Each of us called to walk in your light” (Henry Smith)

Goldwyn Saldanha as a committee member had miscellaneous jobs to be responsible for and the above Jumping Castle was a colourful and happy addition catering for the children – plus multi-flavoursome ice-creams.

Part 1 of the Triptych Centenary Cake

Part 2 of the Triptych Centenary Cake

One Bread, One Body, One Lord of All
One Cup of Blessing Which We Bless.
And We, though Many throughout the Earth,
We are One Body in this Lord. (John Foley SJ)

Part 3 of the Triptych Centenary Cake

Community Joy – food glorious food -supplied by the Centenary committee, led by Helen Barry, Betty Hiller, Marie Saul & by families, friends & OLHC Primary P & F. Yum – delicious & abundant!

Such a lovely family day – everything about it. Very generous people in the Community did their best in every aspect.

“Give thanks with a grateful heart. Give thanks to the holy One.” (Henry Smith)

Elizabeth Barton (nee Buckley) (In blue jacket) together with her husband Charles gathered a wonderful collection of historical and religious pieces symbolizing100 years at OLHC. This couple had such dedication to detail and were assisted by Margaret McArdle from the Centenary Committee and other volunteers. They covered an amazing vista of the past & it was presented warmly and with ease. The hospitality of Elizabeth & Charles added welcome & real dimension to the LIVING history of OLHC Parish- the past, present, future.

“For this is Life For this is Life O Come to the Feast”


Image: Our Lady Help of Christians Epping 100 years ago June 1916

My recollection and joy is that of only one of c.700 community gathered on 29 May 2016. A myriad of aspects would be gleaned and recorded by so many others present at this wonderful Centenary Celebration. Yet I do hope at least any reader may glean from this small piece some of the magical and holy spirit of Our Lady Help of Christians Epping’s Parish Centenary celebration. Thank you for this awesome blessing.

“Help of Christians guard this land from assault or inward stain Let it be what Christ has planned, his new Eden where you reign.”    (Richard Connolly)

Leonie Martin RSM July 2016

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