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Parish History

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Parish History

​Surfers Paradise Parish originated with St Vincent’s in Surfers Paradise and was originally part of the neighbouring Parish of Southport. 

Parish History Timeline:

  • 1934:

    The first of several Surfers Paradise churches named St Vincent’s was originally part of the Southport Parish, under the care of the Vincentian Fathers. The church located in the center of Surfers Paradise was a simple wooden structure that catered for approximately 60 people.

    1946:

    12th August, Surfers Paradise Parish established with Rev Fr Neal Shannon appointed as the first Parish Priest. Due to growing numbers of parishioners and visitors, a marquee and sometimes the local picture theatre were used to accommodate the overflow at masses. Fr Shannon sought to overcome the issue by raising funds to build a larger church on the same site. He became affectionately known as “Brickie” as he urged supporters to, “Be a brick and buy a brick.”

    1948:

    A newly built, single storey, brick building was opened. The building was to be used as both a church and a school for the next 16 years.

    1949:

    Surfers Paradise Parish’s first school, also named St Vincent’s, officially opened 6th July with 30 students under the guidance of the Sisters of Mercy. Sr Mary Flora Heaney RSM was the foundation principal.

    Over the next eighteen months, the parish’s block of land increased in size with the removal of two private homes.

    1952:

    25th January, a new presbytery, facing Hamilton Avenue, was blessed and opened by His Grace Archbishop Sir James Duhig.

    1954:

    A second floor was added to the St Vincent’s Church and School building. The top storey became the school and the ground floor was used as the church.  On 8th December, the first mass in the renovated building was the Silver Jubilee Mass of Fr Shannon celebrating the occasion of his 25th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood.

    1955:

    St Vincent’s Church/School building was officially opened by His Grace Archbishop Sir James Duhig.

    1963:

    The original wooden St Vincent’s Church building was moved to Broadbeach and renamed Sacred Heart Annexe. (Still later in its life it would be renamed for a second time as Stella Maris Church.)

    At the Surfers Paradise site on 23rd October, a foundation stone was blessed and work began on a new and separate St Vincent’s Church.

    1964:

    The next St Vincent’s Church opened on 19th July. This St Vincent’s Church faced the Gold Coast Highway; catered to the faith needs of 60 parish families and could accommodate a congregation of up to 750.

    1969:

    The Southport Catholic Parish, under the leadership of Parish Priest Fr Keith Turnbull, purchased 10 acres of land in what would become known as Benowa. The land was intended to be used to build a school.

    1978:

    Southport Parish oversaw the building of St Kevin’s Catholic Primary School on land purchased nearly 10 years earlier.

    Fr Neal Shannon died on the 29th November, aged 73 years. He had served as Surfers Paradise Parish Priest for 33years.

    1979:

    Fr Charles Casey was appointed as Fr Shannon’s successor as Parish Priest for the Parish of Surfers Paradise.

    St Kevin’s Primary School, Benowa, opened with Mrs Elizabeth Newlands appointed inaugural Principal by the Southport Parish. Gold Coast Parish boundaries were redefined, and St Kevin’s became part of the Surfers Paradise Parish.

    1983:

    Fr Owen Oxenham was appointed Surfers Paradise Parish Priest and charged with setting in place plans to relocate the Parish hub to a site at Fairway Drive Clear Island Waters. The aim of this relocation, despite significant parishioner resistance, was to establish the Parish as a community apart from the visitors and tourists of the Gold Coast.

    A Parish Finance Board was established.

    The South Coast Deanery of Catholic Parishes was formed.

    1984:

    Sister Carmel Dwan RSM was appointed as Parish Pastoral Associate.

    1985:

    St Michael’s College was established at Merrimac with Mr John Lamb as foundation Principal.

    1986:

    Following the sale of a parcel of the parish land in Hamilton Avenue, a fourth St Vincent’s church was built on the corner of Hamilton Avenue and the Gold Coast Highway (renamed Remembrance Drive 1994).

    Surfers Paradise Presbytery, the Parish Offices and St Vincent’s Primary School were relocated to the 50 Fairway Drive property.

    22nd June, a foundation stone for The Sacred Heart of Jesus Church (commonly known as Sacred Heart) was blessed by Most Reverend Francis R Rush DD, Archbishop of Brisbane.

    Fr Owen Oxenham PP DCL OBE (died 1991) left the parish with his relocation task completed. Fr William Morris was appointed as his successor.

    1989:

    14th October, Alderman Gary Baildon officially opened Neal Shannon Park on the Gold Coast Highway (corner of North and Beach Roads).

    1991:

    29th November, parishioner Anthony Randazzo was ordained a priest at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane.

    1992:

    A Parish Pastoral Council was established.

    1993:

    10th February, Fr William Morris ordained Bishop of Toowoomba.

    Fr Michael McCarthy appointed Parish Priest and Dean of South Coast.

    14th September, Mr Russell Addley was appointed Parish Manager.

    1994:

    Deanery Mutlicultural group formed.

    17th November, a former St Vincent’s School Principal, James O’Brien, was ordained a priest at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane.

    1995:

    A Parish Meeting Room (Parish Hospitality Centre) was built between Sacred Heart Church and the Presbytery and Parish Offices.

    1996:

    July 1st 1996, Fr Daniel Ryan appointed Parish Priest.

    Surfers Paradise Parish Golden Jubilee - Celebrated in three churches: St Vincent’s, Stella Maris and Sacred Heart on the 10th and 11th August.

    13th August, St Kevin’s Pre School officially opened and blessed by Fr Frank Burman OSA, Vicar for Education.

    2008: 

    Mrs Sonya Slayter was appointed Parish Manager.

    2009:

    1st July, Fr Timothy Harris appointed Parish Priest.

    2014:

    Original Stella Maris Church at Broadbeach was demolished. Building of new church commenced following donations of over 3.1 million from parishioners and friends.

    2015:

    27th February, new Stella Maris Church dedicated by Archbishop Mark Coleridge.

    2016:

    30-year anniversary of relocation of Surfers Paradise Parish hub at Fairway Drive, Clear Island Waters.

    Sacred Heart Church sanctuary refurbishment including new altar, ambo and tabernacle funded by parishioner donations. 3rd July, dedication of Sacred Heart Church and new altar by Archbishop Mark Coleridge

    2017:

    17th April, Fr Peter Dillon appointed Parish Priest.

    2020:

    In response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, all three churches closed, and masses suspended. Parishioners were released from Sunday obligation. Mass services were streamed and provided online.

Patron Saint: St Vincent de Paul

St Vincent de Paul (1581 - 1660)

Founder of Vincentians and Sisters of Charity

Patron Saint of charitable societies and works

Beautified in 1729 and canonized in 1737

The St Vincent's Church in Surfers Paradise Parish was originally under the care of the Vincentian Fathers

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Stained Glass Windows

Stella Maris and Sacred Heart Churches have large feature glass windows. Stella Maris' glass window depicts Il Sassoferrato's Madonna and Child. Sacred Heart Church has a circular stained glass window that represents our diverse environment, where mountain ranges meet coastal beaches. It was designed and created by....

Crucifix

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