Parish Groups
Special Events
Parish Info
Returning Home
Parish History
Parish Plan
Our Priests
Contact Us

Welcome to St Anthony of Padua Catholic Parish 

St Anthony of Padua Parish was established in September 1976, the second Parish in the Tuggeranong Valley after St Thomas the Apostle Parish at Kambah. Father Gerard Monaghan was St Anthony's first Parish Priest. Mass was first celebrated in the hall of Wanniassa Primary School and then in the hall of Padua High School (now St Mary MacKillop Catholic College) after it opened in early 1977.

In 1984, the Parish Council and Father Quirk Parish priest examined the feasibility of building a permanent Parish Church. The present site on Sternberg Crescent above MacKillop Catholic College was approved at a parish meeting in April 1985, after the site originally proposed for the church, next to St Anthony's Primary School in Wheeler Crescent, was found to be unsuitable. A design for the Church was accepted by another parish meeting in early 1986.

Leigh Palmer recounts his story of the planning of St Anthony's Church:

The original intention was for our church and presbytery to be built on a site beside St Anthony's Parish Primary School, until investigations by a committee containing Mario Sallecchia, a "dirt doctor" from way back, determined that there was an old river bed or two which had been filled in during the development of Wanniassa running right under the proposed church. Also there were problems with access and the school oval encroached onto the church site.

At this point Mario asked me to replace him on the Building Committee. The church was now to be built on part of the Mackillop Catholic College block. Building Committee members included Father Quirk, Brian Robinson, Noel Levings, Merv Willoughby-Thomas, Mark Morrissey and Colin Lane.

We had many late night meetings (probably 18 months of weekly meetings) to determine whether we would have kneelers or not have kneelers, whether they would be padded or not, whether the floor would be flat or sloped and many other questions, on which opinions were often very strongly held by one or more of the players. It was not uncommon to be still thrashing it out at 1:30am.

During these 2 years, my wife Vivien was often heard to comment that she wasn't sure if her husband had joined the priesthood or Father was another male to have around the household, because of the hours and hours Father would spend at our house. It was about this time that I discovered that Fr Quirk was a night owl and could arrange his day to sleep in the following morning.

We visited a number of churches across the ACT and NSW obtaining good ideas and bad ideas. We even looked at other denominations. We interviewed Priests, parishioners and church buffs. Eventually we settled on a brief for an Architect. An important criteria was that the committee wanted our building of worship to look like a church to the wider community. I believe our church is now recognised in that way by the Wanniassa community.

An exhaustive search for an Architect led us to Dennis Leech of Leech and Waite, who had designed St Thomas the Apostle at Kambah. Dennis lived at Palm Beach in Sydney, and this ultimately put some constraints on us. However Dennis was full of enthusiasm and had many good ideas for the creation of the space we desired.

During this process I discovered just how many decisions one has to make in a project such as this and how many different views were held over those issues.

We eventually produced plans and went to tender, thinking it would cost about $500-600,000. Griffith Building Group were the successful tenderer but the cost was going to be about $770,000 and that didn't include the Presbytery!

Our church is indeed testimony to Father Quirk's absolute hard work and his dream. His incredible commitment to the 2 years plus it took on this project is his legacy to us. At times it was difficult to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer questions, pose questions, discuss the pros and cons of a decision etc, but Father seemed to never tire with the process, rather the project seemed to energise him from within. Perhaps it was a supernatural drive that empowered Father to keep up the pace and drive to achieve excellence in design and building of our church.

Important stages in the development of the project were marked by liturgical ceremonies.

The site for the Church was blessed on Sunday 16 June 1985 by Bishop Morgan, who also turned the first sod, beginning the building project on 6th July 1986

With the planning and design work completed, the Church began to take shape.

As Leigh Palmer has noted, the Church was designed to proclaim its presence in the wider community.

Many traditional elements of church design and construction were used in building the Church. On its elevated site and with its distinctive bell-tower, St Anthony's Church evokes the traditional Australian church on the hill.

A number of sacred places are incorporated within the Church and outside in its immediate surrounds, including Our Lady's Shrine, the Baptistry and the Resurrection Garden below the Baptistry window. The booklet for the Dedication ceremony noted many of the concepts and elements used in the design of the Church. Of particular note was the feature that catches one's eye immediately upon entering the Church, ie the glass Cross above the sacramental area of the Church:

"Dominating the sacramental area of the Church is an ethereal Cross in glass set in the wall above the altar. Symbolic glass droplets of blood and water fall from the side of the Cross representing spiritual food and drink for the world, coming through the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the Eucharist".
The glass Cross is back lit by artificial and natural lighting.
The Church is uncluttered and draws people's attention to the sacramental areas. Large areas of glass and the high ceilings allow light to fill the Church. Many objects and items within the Church were originally part of other Churches and provide tangible links with other parts of the Archdiocese.

The tabernacle and the statue of the Risen Christ in the Resurrection Garden are from the Marymead Chapel. The bell is from the old St Columbkille's Church at Jindabyne. Father Quirk was the Parish Priest at Jindabyne before coming to St Anthony's. A link with the past of the Parish is in the iron work Calvary motif beside the Statue of the Risen Christ in the Resurrection Garden, which came from the mobile altar used to celebrate Mass in MacKillop Catholic College.
The baptismal font, altar, lectern and tabernacle stand are made of granite. The granite pieces from which these items are made were offcuts from the granite used in the new Parliament House, which opened one year after the Church.
One anecdote about the building of the Church recounts how a group of parishioners waited one weekday for Father Quirk to arrive at the old presbytery in Mackinnon Street to celebrate Mass. The time for Mass came and went without Father arriving. As it turned out, Father Quirk had gone to the Parliament House construction site to inspect the granite offcuts and had become lost and then locked in!
One sacred place within the church is our Lady's Shrine. It has become a very special place of devotion and prayer for many in our community.  The statue of Our Lady, holding the Infant Jesus, was carved by Mr Inglebert Piccolruaz from Sydney. The Dedication booklet notes that the statue "is a Madonna and Child in modern style, slightly slimmer than usual and reflecting the tenderness of Mary and the Child Jesus."  The Rosary Beads were made by John Di Prinzo.

The statue of the Patron Saint of Our Parish, St Anthony of Padua, is a prominent feature in the entrance area of the Church.

The statue is cast in fibreglass from a unique mould designed especially for our Parish. It incorporates all the traditional symbols associated with St Anthony, such as the Christ Child, the lily and the Book of the Gospels. Rather than holding the Child Jesus, the statue shows St Anthony receiving Jesus. This symbolises Jesus coming to the people of the Parish, represented by St Anthony.

The long-awaited day eventually dawned on a foggy Sunday 31 May 1987. The Dedication ceremony began with a solemn procession led by Archbishop Carroll from MacKillop Catholic College, around the Church to the front doors.

The Dedication of St Anthony's Church was the end of a long and sometimes arduous process of planning, design and construction. But it was the beginning of a new stage in the life of our Parish community. We now have a clear physical focus and centre to our Parish life and the Church proclaims the presence of our faith to the community and everyone.

In the years since the Dedication, the Church has seen hundreds of sacramental and liturgical celebrations in the Church including Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, First Holy Communions and funerals - including of course Father Quirk's in September 1996 when we bid adieu to this wonderful man of God who did so much to build up our community both physically and spiritually.

The first baby welcomed into our community in the new Church was David McGinness on Sunday 7June 1987. The first marriage celebrated in the Church was Christopher Donaghue and Kim McKay on 12 September 1987.

A presbytery was built in 1989-90, immediately adjoining the Church.
The third Parish Priest, Fr Peter Cronin was formally installed on 1st August 1997 after joining the parish as assistant priest in 1994 and acting as Administrator during Fr Quirk's illness. Fr Peter moved to a new Parish in July 2003. Father Mietek Markowicz was with us from 2003 to 2008. He was then succeeded by our present Parish Priest - Father Lachlan Coll.