St Vincent's Church, Ashfield: A Thumbnail Sketch of the Building's History
Posted by Fr Michael
In April 1894 the then Parish Priest of Ashfield Fr Boyle called a meeting of parishioners which elected a building committee and plans were made for a new Church. The foundation stone was laid in October 1894.
Towards the end of 1895 the Church was completed, apart from the front, which was temporarily constructed of wood due to lack of finance to complete the Building according to plan. On 25th November 1895, St Vincent's Church was officially blessed and opened.
Furnishings, paintings, statues and other ornaments were gradually added - the paintings in the sanctuary, for example, did not get underway until 1901. By 1905 the "temporary" wooden front was becoming progressively less sound so the front of the Church was built and the tower and three confessionals added.
The completed Church was opened on 7th October 1907. The event was celebrated with great pomp with a Solemn High Mass and the blessing of the additions by Cardinal Moran. Further beautification of the Church took place in 1909 with new seats, the paintings on the side walls, candlesticks and other ornaments for the altar.
The Silver Jubilee of the Church was celebrated in 1920 with new embellishments to the church including new Stations of the Cross. In 1925 the erection of the choir gallery provided a graceful setting for the magnificent new pipe organ.
In 1932 the interior of the Church was renovated.There were great celebrations for the Golden Jubilee of the parish in 1944 including a Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving on 16th January and a Jubilee Concert for St Patrick's Day in March.
An innovation in 1958 was the introduction of fluorescent lighting in the Church. Changes recommended by Vatican II continued to be implemented in the parish Church. The sanctuary was remodelled by moving the tabernacle from its central focus to the side altar.
In the late 70's early 80's the Church was extensively refurbished: carpet was laid, the inside painted, gold leaf restored, paintings cleaned, the pews sanded and varnished and the confessionals adjusted to accommodate the new rite of Reconciliation.
By the late 1980's there were more changes. The sanctuary was rearranged yet again, including raising the altar, re-centering the tabernacle and re-positioning the lectern and presidential chair. People then had a more panoramic view of liturgical celebrations and were able to participate more fully in them.
1994 saw the Centenary of the Church celebrated in style. Five years of renovations (1998-2003) saw the interior and exterior of the Church prepared for the future. These renovations were designed and approved by the Sydney Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission and have been endorsed by parishioners as being in harmony with the directions and spirit of the Second Vatican Council.
The renovations included a remodelling of the Sanctuary, creation of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, timber Altar, Ambo and Presider's Chair, the location of the Baptismal Font, the devotional shrines, the contemplation Garden and wheelchair access.