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Church land (letter)
A beautiful four-acre parcel of Church-owned land, with heavenly views of the ocean at Aireys Inlet in Victoria, is to be sold at auction. A decision was made to sell by Bishop Peter Connors of Ballarat and Fr Damian Heath PP of Apollo Bay.
The proposed subdivision on the four acres of land is for thirteen blocks and has to be approved by the Surf Coast Shire of Torquay. The land is currently in the hands of an estate agent at Aireys Inlet and expected to sell at $180,000 per block.
Yet the Catholic community of Aireys Inlet is very much in need of a church in which to worship and the land was donated 35 years ago for church purposes.
Three years ago, when he was appointed to the parish, Fr Heath proposed sharing Anglican-Uniting church facilities in the area. But the Anglican-Uniting church occupies a very small block of land on the very busy, dangerous (for children) and noisy Great Ocean Road, next to a Caravan Park. The limited space for car parking presents another problem. Meanwhile, plans are underway to extend the Anglican-Uniting church to allow for Catholics to share the facilities.
This small church currently accommodates only 40 worshippers in cramped conditions, with others having to stand outside the doorway during Mass. Due to large crowds at Christmas and Easter we had to use the Community Hall, which has been used for Sunday Mass for about 20 years. It accommodates about 250 people and recently has been fully refurbished and is ideal for Sunday worship.
Worship for the Catholics of Aireys Inlet and surrounding areas should take place in a dedicated Catholic Church. The four-acre block has ample space for car parking and easy access from the two roads around it. It is also safe for our children and offers a serene atmosphere for all families. What better place to worship our God than amid such beautiful examples of His creation.
This land belongs to the community of Aireys Inlet and selling it would be a great loss to all Catholics. Why should we and our children be deprived of worship on what is "our land"? The sharing of worship facilities with the Anglican and Uniting Churches will be a cause of stress, anxiety and division in our community. Many families will decide to travel to other parishes.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 14 No 6 (July 2001), p. 15
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