Holy Spirit - Thornbury East  ||  St Anthony - Alphington

The beginning of Holy Spirit Parish dates back to the early 1950’s when this part of the northern suburbs of Melbourne began to be developed. The Parish Priest of St. Mary’s, Fr. Gus Vaughan, anticipated a growth in population and the need for a Mass centre. Having bought some land at ‘Dingo Flats’, East Thornbury, he oversaw the construction of a church / school which was completed in 1950.

The next step was the establishment of a separate parish and, on January 17th 1953, the parish was raised and Fr. John Brace was appointed Parish Priest. From February 1953, the existing school building would double as school and church.  At this stage, the building accommodated three classrooms and 80 children, up to Grade 3. The   inconvenience of shifting furniture every week made it important to build a separate church and construction began in 1954. 

The building was finished the following year and on May 22nd, 1955 it was officially opened and blessed by the Co-adjutor Archbishop of Melbourne, J.D. Simonds. The dedication of the church building was made in November 2003, a special event in the life of the parish.  The existing presbytery was built in 1956 and the hall in 1960; the School was extended in 1962, 1973, 1998 and again in 2008.

Beyond this brief listing of dates lies a tremendous amount of dedicated activity by the foundation parishioners, who worked tirelessly to create the parish and to raise funds for the necessary developments, by direct donations, bingo, buy-a- brick campaigns, dances etc. With post-war migration promoted by the government, the original Anglo-Irish  population was supplemented by large groups from Italy, who brought their strong faith with them. From the late 1950s, the Italian  presence in the running of the parish became more prominent. In 1968, an Italian Committee was formed and a weekly Italian mass was celebrated from the end of 1968.

Fr. Brace remained as Parish Priest until 1976, he was followed by Fr. Vitor Rubeo (1976–78), Fr. Joseph Petrauskas (1978–1988), Fr Vincent Corbett (1988-1994), Fr. Mark Reynolds (1994-1996), Fr., now Bishop, Christopher Prowse (1996-2001), in partnership with St. Mary’s Thornbury, Fr. Gerry Medici (2001-2007), Fr. Anthony Denton (2007-2009), and since 2009 in partnership with St. Anthony’s Alphington Fr. Werner Utri (2009-2012), Fr. Dispin John (2013-2016), Fr Adam Babiński SDS (2017-2018) and Fr Ireneusz Czech SDS has been the current Parish Priest since 26 January 2019.

The formation of the Parish Pastoral Planning Team in 1990 introduced the idea of lay leadership in the parish. The group was chosen to be representative of the various demographics in the parish. The role of coordinator was held by a succession of lay people.  It looked at the issues, concerns and needs of the parish community,    
reviewed the way the various groups and people in the parish were working together and made suggestions for future structures and approaches. 

The formation of a Partnership Parish Council was a necessary result of parish partnership and brought further challenges to pastoral care and leadership.

Parish groups have continued to flourish at Holy Spirit Parish. Many people, both past and present have made positive and valuable contributions to the life of the community. The groups include the liturgy group, parish choirs, children’s liturgy, altar servers, readers and ministers of communion, Friends and Neighbours, Italian Group, groundsmen, altar society, sacristans, baptism team, RCIA team and the Finance Committee. At the funeral masses, held recently, of long-time parishioners, Giovanna Zaia and Onelia De Marchi, their commitment to parish life in all its forms was noted and as well as their contribution to shaping the parish and assisting in creating a legacy to be passed on to future generations.   Mention also needs to be made of the various banners, cloths and decorations designed by Rita Alessio and created by her in collaboration with other parishioners. Special parish functions were always decorated with Rita’s beautiful work.

Holy Spirit Parish has always celebrated special events with great prayerfulness and vitality. Celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the parish in 2003 were extensive and inclusive. In 2013 we celebrated our 60th anniversary. A special mass was held on our feast day, Pentecost Sunday, May 19th at 9.30am followed by morning tea in the parish hall.

Our parish has been confronted with considerable change over recent decades. We have been in partnership and out of partnership. We have welcomed a number of priests as our pastors. What have these experiences taught us? If nothing else, we have learnt that the essence of our community is that we are a small and local parish who looks outwardly and cares for its members. We are not perfect, but together we strive to bring the face of God to our world. This is our legacy and so now it is our turn to accept the challenges of community life.

Our Locations

Holy Spirit Church
248 Raleigh Street, East Thornbury

St Anthony's Church
45 Railway Place, Alphington

Parish Office
248 Raleigh Street, East Thornbury


Weekend Masses

Holy Spirit Church

Sat  5pm 
Sun 10am 

St Anthony's Church

Sat 6pm
Sun 9am in Italian 
Sun 11am

Weekday Masses

Holy Spirit Church

Tue 9:15am Communion Service
Tue 7.30pm Mass
Thur 9:15am (Italian Mass)

St Anthony's Church

Wed  9:15am
Fri  9:15am

© Catholic Parish of the Holy Spirit & St Anthony's