Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, Jurien Bay
Jurien Bay is part of the Parish of St John the Baptist in Moora and there has been a Catholic presence in the community from the time of the mid 1960’s. There was a church presence in the town up to the Second World War when there was an Anglican church that had been built with local labour and from community funding. That building was demolished by Army engineers as it was considered a navigational mark that was clearly visible out at sea and could be considered a target by Japanese Naval craft.
The Parish, as it was then, was considered part of the Monastery at New Norcia but came under the control of the Archdiocese of Perth in the 1970’s and ultimately subject to the jurisdiction of the Moora Parish of St John the Baptist. In 1972, Father James O’Brien from Moora celebrated the inaugural Mass in Cervantes. This was followed by Mass in the homes of The Briotti and Keats Families each month. The Easter Mass of 1979 was held in the Cervantes school and had 130 people attend the service.
Various houses and halls have been used by the faith community for worship; more recently using a dedicated small chapel built as an add-on to the Catholic Church House located at 77 Bashford Street, Jurien Bay. This building can comfortably accommodate up to 40 people but was not appropriate for the larger services we experienced during holidays when we have Christmas and Easter celebrations with up to 180 people attending Mass. For those occasions the Jurien Bay Community Recreation Centre was used. Also, the size and design of the chapel at the rear of the house prevented the celebrations of baptisms, weddings and funerals.
The planning for a proposed church in Jurien Bay slowly progressed over the previous decades. On the 21st April, 2018 Fr Chris Webb (Administrator) called a special meeting of parishioners at the Church House in Jurien Bay and announced that the Archbishop has tasked our parish to prepare a ‘Design Brief’ for the building of the church in Jurien Bay. This Brief would be submitted to the Diocesan Resource Committee (DRC) for approval by the Archbishop. Fr Chris provided samples of a “Design Brief” for consideration. Fr Chris, Peter Scharf and John Willett undertook the development of the brief which took several meetings to finalise and a visit to the DRC for completion of the process. Following the submission to the Archdiocese of Perth for a new church, approval was granted to undertake construction of a new church facility dedicated under the patronage of Our Lady Star of the Sea.
Shortly after the approval process Fr Chris Webb was transferred and his replacement was Fr Renald Anthony who immediately convened the local committee. To facilitate a smoother decision-making process, Fr Renald formed a project committee to handle the building management process. Fr Renald, Peter Scharf, Barbara de Meur and John Willett undertook the tasks required. A photo record of all stages of the building from the laying of the “foundation stone” to the official opening has been made and serves as a historical reminder of what the local community was able to undertake.
On the 29th May, 2021 the Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB officially blessed and opened the church of Our Lady Star of the Sea Jurien Bay.
While Jurien Bay is a growing and developing community as part of the Moora Parish, it is the growth centre of the Turquoise Coast and the business centre for the Shire of Dandaragan.
This building became the first dedicated faith building in the locality of Jurien Bay, and makes a spiritual statement to the local community through its location and architectural design, enabling the local Catholic community to be able to celebrate the sacraments of the Church and will support and nurture the faith journey of those who are welcome to worship. A special access will provide for a Blessed Sacrament chapel as part of the building for people who wish to have a “quiet reflection space” during times when services are not being held.
The building is designed to naturally blend with and integrate into the established local environment as well as the vegetation and landscaping within the site which is a tree lined (Pine trees) along the main street of Jurien Bay and adjacent to key community buildings. The retention of existing trees has been maximised .
Our church serves the contemporary liturgical and spiritual needs of the Roman Catholic Church in the locality of Jurien Bay/Cervantes in the Parish of Moora and therefore provides a sacred space and a welcoming place not just for Catholic parish members, but for the wider community as well as the extensive number of visitors during key holiday seasons. Our church building will be a place for the assembly and its liturgies as well as a place for prayer and reflection.
(The church building stands as a sign of the kingdom of God and
of God’s dwelling among men and women.)
Invitation has been extended to local artists, artisans, organisations and trades to contribute to the artworks and structure of the building and its surrounds. Such inclusions has brought the building into the entire community and is a clear symbol of the inclusive nature of the Catholic Church.
There may be opportunities that will enable ecumenical services to be undertaken with other faith denominations. Currently, we have established a MoU with the Anglican Diocese of Perth, to allow the Anglican Community members of the Turquoise Parish to use the Church and the parish house for their celebration of monthly services every fourth Sunday of the month. We are very proud of the outcome and are very happy with our Anglican community. We will endeavour to collaborate and work with other faith based communities who are present in the region.