Dominicans to leave Canberra
The Prior Provincial of the Dominican Friars, Fr Dom Murphy op, has recently advised Archbishop Christopher Prowse that the Order will leave Canberra and return the pastoral care of the Watson Parish to the Archdiocese at the end of November 2023.
Archbishop Christopher noted the long service of the Dominicans to the Archdiocese.
“The Dominican Friars have been part of the pastoral care of Canberra since 1962; it is a sad occasion for the whole Archdiocese but especially the people of the Watson Parish who have had such a long and deep relationship with this Congregation.”
Prior Provincial, Fr Murphy informed the parishioners of Blackfriars Parish at each of the masses this last weekend that the Congregational Chapter had believed that they had no choice.
“The shrinking numbers of Friars have made this painful decision necessary,” he explained.
In his homily, Fr Murphy noted the sadness and uncertainty for the parish but also noted the message of hope in the Sunday Gospel that “God is with us” in all things.
Following the masses, parishioners spoke with Fr Murphy about the decision while others asked each other about what it meant for their parish. Some parishioners assumed it would mean visiting clergy or linking with another parish.
The Dominican Friars and the Dominican Sisters accepted Archbishop Eris O’Brien’s invitation to come to Canberra in the early 1960s, establishing Blackfriars Priory and Signadou Teachers College and undertaking the pastoral responsibilities for the Watson Parish.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn’s Chancellor, Dr Patrick McArdle, noted the Dominicans’ influence over the last 60 years.
“The work of both Priory and College, together with the service of individual Friars and Sisters, has not only served the growing Canberra community but has fundamentally shaped the nature of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese for many decades.”
In the New Year, Archbishop Prowse will establish a working party to consider the pastoral needs of the inner north of Canberra and how these might best be served in the future.
“While this news is disappointing and deeply regretted, it is now time to start contemplating the future. We need to ask some fundamental questions about the shape of parishes, their locations and how the Archdiocese can best cater for the needs of the people,” Archbishop Prowse said.
The Archbishop noted that the people of the parishes, their Pastors and parish pastoral and finance councils in the inner north would be part of the consultation process to determine what can and should be done to most effectively enable the Evangelising Mission of Jesus.