On 4th May 2014, our St Canice community was privileged to have the recently appointed Apostolic Administrator for the Archdiocese, the Most Reverend Peter Comensoli, preside at our Mass of Celebration marking the 125th Anniversary of the Opening of the Church by Cardinal Moran in 1889.

Bishop Peter preached the Homily at this celebratory Mass in which he spoke of our long tradition as a parish.

In this post, we share extracts of four inspiring addresses during this special Mass. These include Bishop Peter’s homily; Father Chris’ words before the Final Blessing; and personal insights into what the “Spirit of St Canice’s” means to two of our parishioners, Sue Wittenoom, and Gerard Brennan. You can click on the links below to read the complete texts.

Following on from the story of the road to Emmaus, Bishop Peter said of St Canice’s:

Christ does not leave us here in the Church, he sends us back out into the world. What is given to us, we are to give in turn.

Think of all the people who have passed through these doors, or looked up at the façade. Think of all those who have received the sacraments of Christ from here, both the seven official sacraments of the Church, as well as the sacraments of Hospitality, care and service.

Think of all who have made St Canice’s their faith home, and the porch their nightly home. Think of all those, who from this place, have been companions on the journey – listening to the Word of Light; breaking rthe Bread of Life; proclaiming the Good News of Christ.

There are precious few institutions that can lay claim to being such a constant and consistent source of goodness, welcome, hope and healing in our society. All of this, and so much more, is worth celebrating indeed.

The Right Revd. Bishop Peter Comensoli DD

The Right Revd. Bishop Peter Comensoli DD

Click here to read the text of Bishop Peter’s Homily in full.

Father Chris Jenkins SJ, contrasted St Canice’s in the 19th century with the diverse Community of Faith who comprise St Canice’s today:

If John Hughes, our great benefactor, came among us today, he would probably recognise the exterior of the same Canice’s church, in its Gothic lines and traceries . . . the streetscape and surrounding neighbourhood would be beyond his imagining. As would be the international and racial mix of the congregation. The Irish maids and merchants of his day are not so numerous, but still among us.


Our parishioners now come from all over our city, from a great variety of backgrounds and nationalities. Their stories are rich in their variety, Their expectations and needs so various, in each is living out there lives following of Jesus in this their chosen community of faith.

Whatever their age, gender, or sexual orientation, social or economic status, culture, race or language, each has their own contribution to make to the large project of building the kingdom of faith and justice which we struggle with here at St Canice’s.


Father Chris also acknowledged and thanked The Hon Tom Hughes, with his sister Connie and brother Geoffrey, all great grandchildren of John Hughes through whose grace, munificence and bounty we are able to be in this beautiful building today. We thank them for joining us for this special Mass today.

Fr Chris Jenkins SJ Parish Priest

Fr Chris Jenkins SJ Parish Priest

Click here to read the text of Fr Chris Jenkins SJ Words before the Blessing


Sue Wittenoom spoke of how special, distinctive and memorable this place, St Canice’s, is:

In architecture and urban planning we talk about the genius loci of a place – which is a way of recognising how a place becomes special and distinctive and memorable. Genius loci goes beyond the physical qualities of space. It starts with this site at the foot of Kings Cross, with the theatre of the steps on the street, and with the warmth of the sandstone of this beautiful building. It’s also the rich ecosystem of the different groups and communities that live and work in the parish, and all the people who have come to rely on the work of the parish to make it through their own lives . . . .


When Father Steve moved the church pews some years ago, he also renewed our relationships with each other. Steve eventually settled on the configuration we use now, with the altar in the middle, where the liturgy is celebrated along the length of the nave in a space that we create and hold.

Winston Churchill said that we shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us. I think this setting, in this space, is one of the keys to understanding the spirit of St Canice’s.

Sue Wittenoom

Sue Wittenoom

Click here to read the text of Sue Wittenoom’s reflection on St Canice’s.

Gerard Brennan commenced by expressing thanks for the 125 years of service, both spiritual and practical, given by the parish of St Canice, and asked us to remember in our prayers the generosity and devotion of the founders and those who have maintained the parish since its foundation. He went on to say:

Now we must ask ourselves whether the parish of today remains as relevant to the lives of the people as did the parishes of years gone by.

Gerard shared how Pope Francis addressed that question in Evangelii gaudium, and then related it to St Canice’s.

Now, as in the past, the Church must live in the homes of her sons and daughters, but those homes are not confined to the ghettos of the past. As a parish, St Canice’s has been proud to welcome all who have chosen to worship here, but parishioners today are called to know, to respect, to care for – indeed, to love – all people. And that may impose on us, the parishioners of St Canice’s, a particular obligation towards all in the local community, the people who live on the streets and those who live in comfort, the people who work in boardrooms, in bars and in brothels, people who staff offices, hospitals and hotels; all who are our neighbours to be loved as ourselves. And then to recognize the world of poverty and need in other places.


It is for us, the parishioners in the pews, to ensure that our minds and hearts respond to Pope Francis’ call to make St Canice’s an “environment of living communion and participation and to make [it]completely mission-oriented”. That is our challenge for the years to come.

Gerard Brennan

Gerard Brennan

Click here to read the text of Gerard Brennan.

The Prayers of the Faithful at St Canice’s each Sunday are always pertinent and give pause for reflection. They were no different on this special day; written by Kevin Walsh, and read by Margaret Spencer.

Margaret Spencer reading the 'Prayers of the Faithful'

Margaret Spencer reading the ‘Prayers of the Faithful’

Click here to read Prayers of the Faithful.

Click here to read Acknowledgement of Land by Indiana Taylor-Stevens

This 10-minute video contains selections from the music of the celebratory 125th Anniversary Mass.