Tag Archives: Villa Maria

Hundreds form a Human Prayer Chain against Café Plans for Villa Maria Chapel

By guest writer Catherine Toomey.

Circa 200 people of all ages and races formed a human chain down the wall of Brisbane’s Villa Maria heritage property on Wednesday evening.

“We are here to prayerfully rally against plans to put a café in one part of our Villa Maria chapel,” said event spokesperson, Peter Bond.

In addressing the large gathering, Bond said he “felt very blessed to see so many our Lord has called to protect His holy church.”

Along with their rosary beads and lanterns, the gathering held corflutes with the hashtag the campaign has managed to have trending over the last day – #NoChurchCafe.

Bond said that this measure was being taken at the eleventh hour, although ‘Construction’ signs are already in place at the site, because the community had not yet been heard.

“We have signed petitions, written to the authorities and tonight we are here in prayer and reparation for what is going on,” he clarified.  “It is outrageous to imagine this sacred space being desecrated in such a way as is being proposed.”

A handwritten petition has already attracted almost 1000 signatures in a matter of days.

The land is owned by the Archdiocese of Brisbane but leased by Catholic Healthcare Australia (CHC.)

Both parties have experienced significant social media outcry in the last 24 hours as people across the Brisbane community have become aware of the situation.

“Although CHC are claiming to have had communication with all ‘relevant parties,’ we are frankly disappointed with the lack of dialogue and have not been listened to,” said Bond after CHC released statements to The Catholic Leader and on their Facebook and Twitter pages Wednesday.

“That changes tonight,” he added.  “For wherever two or three are gathered in my name, say the Lord, I am in the midst. May hearts be moved tonight as we pray together (Matt 18:20.)”

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Photos by Liam Nally.

Sign the online petition here.

Community Rallies against Café Plans for Heritage Catholic Church

By guest writer Catherine Toomey.

An organic uprising is occurring across Brisbane upon the discovery of otherwise clandestine plans to repurpose part of Brisbane’s heritage Villa Maria Chapel into a café.

Villa Maria
photo by Liam Nally

A prayer vigil has been organized for this Wednesday evening (6th December at 6:15pm) in protest and reparation outside the venue. Additionally, a handwritten petition has already attracted almost 1000 signatures in a matter of days.

Event spokesperson, Mr. Peter Bond, stipulated that the event is non-political and will be attended by not only concerned Catholics but many in the broader community who have concerns with the heritage impact of the proposal to put a café inside.

“It’s outrageous to imagine this sacred space being desecrated in such a way,” he said.

“Can you imagine one side of the chapel watching a Mass being presided over while on the other side of the glass divider, others are nonchalantly sipping on their lattes?”

photo by Catherine Toomey

The stately Spring Hill building is owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane but leased by Catholic Healthcare Australia and is attached to an aged care facility they manage. It operates alongside the original convent for the still-active Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, founded there in 1874 by Fr. Julian Tenison Woods of Mary Mackillop fame.

Bond said that the lack of dialogue with the community is highly disappointing and that he couldn’t understand why a good, alternative proposal for the site had been knocked back.

“This is one of THE most utilised heritage sites for Catholics in Brisbane,” he said. “Imagine if big business made such a decision to desecrate indigenous land or a Muslim mosque at this juncture?”

The decision to desecrate this sacred space comes after a similar scenario at St. Patrick’s Church in Fortitude Valley which has now been bravely reconsecrated by Fr. Peter Brannelly.

“We simply cannot be silent anymore and we hope our stand encourages our bishops, whom we dearly love, to gain the fortitude to stand alongside us in defense of our key sacred spaces,” said Peter. “There have been enough attacks on the Church and religious liberty of late.”

Sign the online petition here.