Liturgy Corner

Carmel Parish Bulletin articles from the Liturgy Committee

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Australia’s First Saint

Carmel Bulletin, 25 February 2018

Mary-MacKillopYou can find our new image of St Mary MacKillop near the entry doors at the back of the church.  It is carved by Engelbert Piccolruaz, who was born and learnt woodcarving in the traditional style of the Italian alpine region; the origin of our statue of St Joseph.

The decision on how St Mary would be represented came from a long period of consultation.  While at one stage we contemplated adopting the most common representation of St Mary, in the habit of the order that she founded, we saw an opportunity to present an alternative perspective.

St Mary’s love of God, and her desire to serve her God through service to those in need, began at a young age.  Her gentle concern, combined with enthusiasm and courage, saw the establishment and flourishing of a new religious order, the education of countless children in over one hundred schools, and the patient resolve to see through the challenges from those who disagreed with her.

In addition to considering how these characteristics could be best expressed, we also learnt about the growing range of representations of St Mary in other places, capturing different periods in her life.  The Sisters of St Joseph themselves look to recall and celebrate St Mary’s whole life – young and old, daughter, sister, governess, teacher and religious.  We also sought to reflect something of the Josephites today, without the habit of the past, but still with the order’s emblem.  The symbol of the cross also features prominently on the book in her hand, as it did in the religious life and spirituality of St Mary of the Cross.

We hope that this statue can be for all people a means of reflecting on the life and example of the patron saint of our nation and diocese.  May her life continue to be an inspiration to all of us to follow Christ.

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Making a grand entrance

Carmel Bulletin, 11 February 2018

01 - Before Mass 1One of the tasks we sought to achieve when renewing our church was to improve the entrances into the building.

There were practical reasons for this – the space under the choir gallery was dark compared to the rest of the church, and we knew that glass doors would appear more inviting to those passing by outside.  Realigning the doors from the parish centre into the church has improved the flow of movement between the two spaces.

Church doors and entrances also bear the important task of helping us make the transition to prepare our hearts and minds for celebrating together in a house of prayer.  We pass back out through them again renewed with the task of taking Christ to the world.  Church entrances are also part of a number of liturgical celebrations where entering the church forms a symbolic part of the ritual; some of these include the rites of initiation of adults and children, marriages and funerals.

Baptistery-Grille-for-BooklThe design of our new doors not only serves the various liturgical needs and functions, but also honours our past.  Our architect, Jesse Mowbray, used the architectural drawing of a grille for the baptistery from the original 1950’s plans as inspiration for our current door design.

We hope that as we continue to celebrate in our renewed church, we can appreciate how our new doors contribute to an enriched life of prayer.

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Getting to Know our Renewed Church

Carmel Bulletin, 24 December 2017

Welcome to our first weekend of Masses since our new altar was dedicated and new parts of our church blessed for use.  To help you become familiar with our renewed church, please take note of the following:

03 - Blessing of Font 1

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv blesses our new baptismal font, 17 December 2017

We bless ourselves with holy water as we enter the church to remind us of our baptism.  We encourage you to bless yourself directly from the baptismal font in the centre of the church.

The front pew in each section of the church is kneeler-free, which may be of help to those who are unable to kneel, and to those who need easy access in and out of their seat.

Many people use the devotional spaces around the church for their personal prayer.  Please feel free to pray at the shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but only before or after Mass.  Stopping at the shrine after receiving communion causes difficulties and disruption for others.  The seats in front of the shrine are the perfect place to stop and pray after Mass, while keeping walkways clear.  We look forward to the other devotional spaces around the church being completed early in the new year.

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Altars and Relics

Altar stone

Altar stone that was kept within the altar of our church from approx 1975 to 2017

Some people may remember a time when altars had set into the table an ‘altar stone’.  The stone often had set into it the relic of a saint.

In early times, churches were often built over the tombs of martyrs, whose sacrifice reflected and honoured Christ’s own sacrifice.  St Peter’s Basilica and the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, for example, are both built over the tombs of the respective saints.

From this practice, the Church has had a long tradition of placing relics of saints beneath altars.  Many other saints, even if they are not martyrs, came to be interred in crypts below the sanctuaries of churches and cathedrals.  In other churches, a reliquary has been placed beneath the table of the altar.  While there was a time where relics were set into the table in an altar stone, the altar itself is a symbol of Christ, the living stone.  Relics, if they are to be kept at an altar, are to be placed beneath the table, which better reflects the traditional custom.


Architect’s impression of the new stone altar to be installed in our church as part of our Church Renewal Process

Our new altar will include a compartment beneath the table for the relics of a saint, which will be placed there by Bishop Vincent when the altar is dedicated on Sunday 17 December.

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Hear the Difference

Carmel Bulletin, 1 October 2017

Church Renovation 1The visual difference to our church since demolition work began is obvious, but have you noticed any aural (sound) difference?

The removal of the carpet has changed the acoustics of the building.  Soft furnishings, like carpet, absorb sound, while sound bounces off hard surfaces like brick, timber and stone.  The result is an increased resonance of sound throughout the church, which enlivens the output from the sound system, organ and musical instruments.

Good acoustics are also important so that we can hear each other.  Being able to hear those around us pray and sing gives us confidence and reminds us that the liturgy is a communal, rather than individual act.  If we can’t hear others, it feels like we’re cheering on our team at home in front of the TV, rather than at the stadium with thousands of other fans – there’s a big difference in terms of sound and experience.  Feeling like you’re the only person in the church singing is not very encouraging!

While our renewed church will have some carpet, there will be less of it.  Some spaces that were carpeted will be tiled instead.  This means the acoustic feel of the church will change again, but will not be as dull as what it was before.  We’ll need to wait and see what the difference will sound like.

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Church Renewal: The Entrances as Functional Spaces

Carmel Bulletin, 18 October 2015

Church Renewal ProcessWithin the design concept for the renewal of our church, new doors will improve the flow of movement between the church and parish centre, as well as the natural light under the choir gallery.

Light is a natural symbol of the presence of Christ.  We are fortunate to have a church that is abundant with natural light, reminding us of the heavenly light and warmth of God the creator.  This is less apparent under the choir gallery; the imposition of the gallery and the closed former entry doors limiting the light in that space.  The glass doors proposed to replace the current entry doors will provide much more light in this area.

The same doors will be positioned further forward than the current doors.  This will allow us to expand the area at the entrance, improve the sense of transition between exterior and interior, and provide space that will help support people’s personal and devotional prayer.  A new awning at the entrance will ensure that the entrance remains adequately sheltered.

Entrance Procession

The doorways of a church need to be large enough to accommodate a proper procession with all its requirements. Photo © Alphonsus Fok, 321 Photography

To be suitable for a procession of vested ministers led by a processional cross held high, the entrance is designed with appropriate gravitas.

And when churches are to be built (national guidelines for the building of churches), article 215

Something we have learned from using our parish centre is that the doorways between it and the church are narrow and too short to accommodate a liturgical procession (making sure the door frame doesn’t collect the processional cross on the way through is an art our servers have had to perfect!).  The new doors for our church will be designed with greater proportions to better serve this ritual action, and again improve the flow of movement of people in and out of the church.

You can read and view more about the design concept in the parish centre and at

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Church Renewal: Reflecting the Importance of the Entrances

Carmel Bulletin, 11 October 2015

Church Renewal ProcessWithin the design concept for the renewal of our church, new doors will improve the flow of movement between the church and parish centre, as well as the natural light under the choir gallery.

Architecturally and symbolically, doorways and thresholds are significant places, linking two different kinds of space.  In a church, the transitional or liminal space of the narthex marks the movement from introductory activities and rituals to the sacred action of the liturgy itself where the Body of Christ is constituted for worship and where the people enter into the mystery of God’s saving action.

And when churches are to be built (national guidelines for the building of churches), article 213

Door, Abbey Church, Montecassino

Door from the Benedictine Abbey Church of Montecassino, Italy – clearly not a door you would find for sale in your local hardware store!

The new glass doors that we propose to install are of glass construction, with a decorative metalwork screen.  The glass will let light into the church, and allow passers-by to see inside, which will help to make the entrances and the church more inviting.  The metal screens on the doors relate directly to original design plans for the church, and provide a design that sets them apart from other common doors. This will help to define the church as a special, sacred space with a particular purpose, and highlight the church doors as an important point of transition and movement into a house of prayer.

You can read and view more about the design concept in the parish centre and at