The extension of St James the Apostle parish church, Hoppers Crossing North

Recent years have brought continuing growth in the local community, it is anticipated that by 2050 the population of the City of Wyndham will be greater than that of Canberra. Many new housing estates are springing up and areas that were once farmland are now overrun with all kinds of construction equipment and houses being built very quickly.

Naturally, with an increase in population, a proportion of the newcomers are Catholic and the one church at Hoppers Crossing North has seen increasing numbers of Mass attendees. Many of our weekend Masses have been filled to more than capacity and since 2015 we have been looking forward to expanding our church building.
Naturally, we needed a funding base to enable us to borrow the money for a substantial building project, so in 2018 we commenced a formal stewardship scheme with assistance from the Archdiocese of Melbourne. The parish community joined in wholeheartedly and committed to a weekly income in excess of $5,000. This enabled the parish to engage architects to draw up the extension plans and to develop a masterplan for future developments.

The plan was in 3 phases
1) a new presbytery to accommodate two priests and a visitor
2) work on the church extensions
3) the building of a parish community centre.

The first phase got underway and eventually, in February 2020, Fr Jude and Fr Silvio relocated to move into their new home. The parishioners were a great support in assisting with the packing and transferring over to the new presbytery.

Phase 2 saw the demolition of the previous presbytery with the last weekend Mass held in the church on Sunday 16 February 2020. Weekday Masses were planned at Thomas Carr Regional College chapel with all weekend Masses in the Paulist Centre, on parish grounds. However, the Coronavirus came along and not only were Masses stopped but the number of workers on the extension project was reduced to a maximum of five. The original end date had been planned for mid-November 2020. Instead, we were only able to return to our sacred home on the weekend of 6 and 7 March 2021.

The project included the building of six new gables to widen the body of the church, a new baptismal font with a walk-in font for adult baptisms, new LED lighting with a vibrant projection of the season’s colour onto the ceiling above the altar, a kitchen, servers’ vestry, musicians store and many new cupboards and other storage space. The carpet was replaced with a purple finished material, the altar was raised onto a wooden sanctuary, and the sound system was dramatically improved with the system tuned for the different voices of our priests and guests. The narthex was widened and extended and we have an adoration chapel overlooking the church, which can be used for parents with young children at Mass. Parishioners can now access this chapel any time during the day.

Cameras were also installed, enabling us to provide live-streaming of Masses whenever necessary. New car parks have been provided and the old car park resurfaced, with new lighting in all car parking areas. Finally, we have a bell tower with a brilliant stainless steel cross raised high to the sky.

We thank the church building committee, the parish pastoral council, the parish staff, and all parishioners who are supporting this project.

Mark Duggan
A parishioner at St James the Apostle Parish

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