The origins of the Parish of St John’s Wood / The Gap go back to 1936 when Archbishop Duhig invited the Marist Fathers to take on the growing district of St John’s Wood in Ashgrove Parish. The Marist Fathers were resident in the area at Glenlyon House and had been attracting many parishioners to their Chapel services. Masses continued in the Chapel throughout 1936 until numbers were such that services commenced at the Ambassador’s Hall, St John’s Wood.
On Sunday 18th April 1937, the foundation stone of Mater Dei Church was laid. Three months later, on Sunday 18th July, 1937, at 7.00am a sung Mass by the Wilston choir was the first celebration for the official opening of the new Mater Dei Church by Archbishop James Duhig in the afternoon of that day.
School began at Mater Dei on 5th February, 1951, with an attendance of 50-55 students. Several Sisters of Charity lived in the community at the new convent for the next twelve years, but eventually withdrew due to a shortage of vocations and returned to live at Mt St Michael’s Convent.
On 9th November, 1969, a special Mass was celebrated on the new ten acre property in Chaprowe Rd, The Gap. At that time Mater Dei Church, which had seating capacity for 320, held four Masses each Sunday. One Mass each Sunday was held in The Gap RSL. St Peter Chanel School opened on 28th August, 1972. The first principal was Sr Fabre and she was followed in 1973 by Sr Conrad. Mass was celebrated in the school buildings until the first Mass at St Peter Chanel Church on 21st December, 1980 with the official blessing on the 1st February, 1981.
The Parish was administered by the Marist Fathers until the end of 2008. It is now a Diocesan Parish.
Saint Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr (Feast day - April 28) The protomartyr of the South Seas, Saint Peter Chanel was born in 1803 at Clet in the diocese of Belley, France. His intelligence and simple piety brought him to the attention of the local priest, Father Trompier, who saw to his elementary education. Entering the diocesan Seminary, Peter won the affection and the esteem of both students and professors. After his ordination he found himself in a rundown country parish and completely revitalized it in the three year span that he remained there. However, his mind was set on missionary work so, in 1831, he joined the newly formed Society of Mary (Marists) which concentrated on missionary work at home and abroad. To his dismay, he was appointed to teach at the seminary at Belley and remained there for the next five years, diligently performing his duties.
In 1836, the Society was given the New Hebrides in the Pacific as a field for evangelization, and the jubilant Saint Peter was appointed Superior of a little band of missionaries sent to proclaim the faith to its inhabitants. On reaching their destination after an arduous ten month journey, the band split up and Saint Peter went to the island of Futuna accompanied by a lay brother and an English layman, Thomas Boog. They were at first well received by the pagans and their king Niuliki. However, the kings jealousy and fears were aroused when the missionaries learned the language and gained the people's confidence; he realized the adoption of the Christian faith would lead to the abolition of some of the prerogatives he enjoyed as both high priest and sovereign.
Finally, when his own son expressed a desire to be baptized, the king's hatred erupted and he dispatched a group of his warriors to set upon the saintly head of the missionaries. Thus, on April 28, 1841, three years after his arrival, Saint Peter was seized and clubbed to death by those he had come to save. His death brought his work to completion - within five months the entire island was converted to Christianity.
A blessing on the man who puts his trust in Yahweh, with Yahweh for his hope.He is like a tree by the water side that trusts its roots to the stream:When the first heat comes it feels no alarm, its foliage stays green:It has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit.Jeremiah 17:7-8
The design of the St Peter Chanel School crest was chosen by a committee and adopted by the school community in 1984. As well as the school name and the motto, you will find on the school badge a eucalypt tree superimposed on a cross. Stands of eucalyptus form a significant part of the natural vegetation of The Gap area and the tree represented stands in the school grounds. A tree, any tree, is symbolic of much in our lives. We climb a tree for a wider view, to learn, to experience, to be educated. We cling to it in flood and storm – a support when we are worried or concerned. We shelter under it from the heat, to rest, to be restored. We reach up to pick the fruit – to eat, to be nourished, to grow. The branches of a tree reach across fences for neighbours to share, to love. Each year the leaves fall to the ground, return to the soil and become part of the tree again. We tend it and cherish it and so it flourishes and bears much fruit. The cross on the badge signifies that St Peter Chanel School is a Catholic place of learning and this immediately implies certain beliefs and values, a common thread for all in the community. It reminds us of the suffering of Jesus in His death on the Cross, the joy of His Resurrection and the strength of His Spirit at Pentecost and now, in our lives.
The greatest of the Christian virtues, charity is love in its purest form embodying generosity and self-sacrifice. This form of love embodies and reflects the nature of God and is the ultimate perfection of the human spirit. Charity is the practice of living the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed.
Relying on God, hope keeps us searching for true happiness, sustains us in hard times and keeps us from being discouraged. To demonstrate hope is to share in God's desires for us all; to become fully human and fully alive.
Acceptance is embodied in the grateful embrace of all God's gifts and invitations to us. It is an expression of love and ultimately a form of patience with God, self and others. Mary is a model of acceptance for all the faithful in her invitation to be the Mother of God.
The giving and receiving that which is essential for growth into wholeness. While our nurturing acts are essential for others to grow, our actions develop our own empathy, judgement, restraint and respect. In helping the other to grow, we grow ourselves.
A quality which is unusually good and so surpasses ordinary standards; it is a standard all should aim for. The ancient Greek philosophers described excellence as living up to one's potential. If we are what we repeatedly do then excellence is not an act but a habit.
The early Christians promoted 'agape' as an essential virtue; to love God, self and neighbour. It is love then that binds and distinguishes an authentic Christian community. It is the embodiment of the new and greatest commandment Jesus proclaimed - "love one another, as I have loved you."