Our Parish - Past and Present

Don Schroder, Silvio Volombello,
Father Shibu Joseph and Alex Stables - 2012.
Click here for all acknowledgements

As with all faith communities, Holy Spirit has a unique history and culture that has developed over the more than 40 years of its existence. Incorporated as a Parish in March 1972, the first Parish Priest, Fr. Jim Nippard led the large and rapidly growing community forward. Holy Spirit has had a unique cross section of ages, stages and experiences to make up ‘the People of God’.

The 1991 National Census Parish Profile shows that the median age of the population was 28.5. Five percent of Catholics were aged 65 and over. Eighty three percent of dwellings were either owned or being purchased. Looking at the ‘Age by Sex by Religion’ statistics, we can see a balance of males (2,361) and Females (2,518) with a fairly even spread of numbers, between 20-30%, in every age bracket i.e.: 0-14, 15-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65+.[1]

This demographic profile still exists[2] and is a key strength of a faith community that continues to provide ‘cradle to the grave’ activities and groups for participation, belonging and outreach, e.g.: The Evergreens for senior citizens, Family Groups, Sharks Football Club, Spirit Magic Basketball and Little Spirits Playgroup.[3]

Embracing one of the many clarion calls to flow out of the Second Vatican Council, Fr. Nippard empowered the parishioners, establishing a ‘communal’ view of being church that through Baptism, called for committed, active participation and involvement by the people in all areas of parish life. A key plank of this initiative was the fact that the actual church building was really designed as a multi-purpose community centre that would serve not only as a place of worship, but also as a space where people with different interests and pursuits could come together and foster community development. “The Baptised carried out…the mission for the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world.” Lumen Gentium 31[4]

The parish primary school was named Holy Spirit Community School and teachers, students and parents were invited to relate on a first name only basis, a radical move fostering a genuine sense of equality and inclusivity. The growth, size and status within the North Ringwood area of the annual parish/school fete and the current school motto ‘Faith, Family, Friendship’ still encapsulates today, this unique identity and history of being community.

Furthermore, the Parish Vision Statement developed out of the 1996 Parish Review, articulates the importance to this faith community of these values:


“Our Parish is an open and extended family.
Celebrating our faith in Jesus together.
Committed to the challenges of Christ in our world today.
And constantly reaching out with love and compassion to all.”[5]
Following these foundations laid in the early years, came an exceptional and formative era of growth and development for the parish under the charismatic and empowering twenty three year leadership of Fr. Kevin Mogg. The quality and vision of the man, the length and stability of his appointment and the confidence for service he engendered in his people, cannot be understated. It has profoundly and positively shaped an identity and culture for mission, “committed to the challenges of Christ and constantly reaching out with compassion” within and beyond the parish community. Of course, the tradition of a service centred community has been further developed and nourished by Fr. Allan Mithen, Fr. Eugene San and our current parish Priest, Fr. Joe Shibu.

40 years of growth has seen the parish site develop from a blackberry and pine-tree scattered rough block into the wonderful parish and school complex that exists and flourishes today.

[1] The Catholic Research Office for Pastoral Planning for the Archdiocese of Melbourne 1991 Census Information. Ringwood North, Part 1. For Parishes and Schools. October 1993
[2] Ringwood North Parish, Archdiocese of Melbourne, NCCP. Source: ABS 2006
[3] ‘Faith, Family, Friendship’. Holy Spirit Parish Information Booklet 2006 pg 11
[4] Lumen Gentium. The Documents of Vatican II, Austin Flannery Gen Ed, USA, Costello Publishing, 1996
[5] Holy Spirit Parish Council Minutes, May 1997