The Franciscan Friars took possession of Kedron parish on the evening of 12th June 1929.
Now the parish was delimited ~ before it had included Gordon Park and Bald Hills. The boundaries of the parish were determined along Stafford Road, which cut off Gordon Park, Webster Road, Rode Road ~ which cut off Bald Hills, along Gympie Road to Tannery Creek, which was followed to Kedron Brook and back to Gympie Road, linking up with Stafford Road. In all there were less than 400 Catholics in the area.
The pioneer friars appointed to Kedron were Fr Fidelis as Parish Priest and Frs Ronan and Celsus as assistants. The diocesan priest Fr Stanaway resigned, and his generous but short service to the parishioners was acknowledged by M J Gallagher, Peter Carter, Charlie Wren and Harry Bevan.
The parish plant at that time consisted of the Church and presbytery ~ in all with a debt of 1800 pounds.
The Archbishop expressed his concern to the friars about the number of Catholic children in state schools ~ 69 were at the Public School in Glen Kedron, and a few were at Stafford State school. So the challenge now was to find suitable land to be purchased, a community of sisters to conduct a school, and a place for such sisters to live.
Fr Fidelis was keen to get Franciscan Sisters to come to Kedron. It was impossible to get teaching sisters in Australia in the then foreseeable future, so Fidelis wrote to Mother Benignus, the Mother-General of the Missionary Franciscan Sisters in Rome, requesting sisters for Kedron. The answer was ‘Yes’.
So four sisters were sent to Australia ~ Sister Mary Agnella, Sister Mary Jarlath, Sister Mary Dympna and Sister Mary Isidore.
Having arranged for the Sisters to come to Kedron, the next problem was land for the school. There was vacant land opposite the Church, and it was owned by the City Council. Although the Council demanded a rather inflated price for the land, three acres were bought for nearly £3,000.
The next step was the building of a school. The plan was designed by H G Sydes, and J Schmid was in charge of building works. Mr M J Gallagher, a generous benefactor of the parish and friend of Fr Fidelis, turned the first sod on the building site.
The school, a substantial structure built to take another story, was finished at a cost of £2,000.
Padua College later bought this land and building ~ it now constitutes Padua’s Western Campus where boys in years five to seven are educated. What especially thrilled the parishioners was that the Sisters had arrived, virtually from the ends of the earth, from Italy, the United States, and all of them Irish!
The Archbishop blessed and opened the school on 26th January 1930.
To provide accommodation for the Sisters now teaching in St Anthony’s School, the friars vacated the Presbytery—(the present Parish Hall) – and occupied the small rooms at the top of the stairs of the school. They were catered for by the Sisters, Sr Mary Isidore is reported as being an excellent chef!
It was time to think about a Friary. Hennessy & Hennessy, architects were engaged to prepare plans and specifications for a Spanish Mission style ~ similar in some ways to the Spanish Franciscan mission style of California. What was built was but the small corner of what was to include a towering campanile featuring the chapel at the left-hand corner of the long front façade.
During the Second World War the Friary was a magnet for all the Chaplains in and around Brisbane. Among those who visited it were Indonesians, Dutch & Americans as well as Australian Franciscan chaplains, Pat Reynolds, Leonard Gleeson and Brendan Rogers who were all later to be Pastors of Kedron. The early years of the parish saw established the Holy Name Society, The Secular Franciscan Order, the Sodality of the Children of Mary, the Boy Scouts and the St Vincent de Paul Society.
Part of the original agreement between the Franciscans and Archbishop Duhig was that the friars were to supervise the building of a church at Wavell Heights and to care for it for five years. The church was put under the patronage of the Franciscan St Paschal, and the school under the care of St Mary of the Angels—remembering the place just outside Assisi with the same name, that became the mother church of the Franciscan Order. When the friars finished their five year stint, the Pastor appointed was Dr O’Donoghue, who in his early years lived with the friars at Kedron.
Much of the subsequent history of the Kedron Parish is tied up with the continuing need to offer a catholic education to children of the area. To that end St Anthony’s School was moved to new buildings on the corner of Turner Road and Somerset Street: Mt Alvernia College and Padua College were established in the mid 50’s. By 1954 Kedron was home to 5,364 Catholics and five Masses were celebrated for the people each weekend. At all Masses the church was overcrowded. So a new church was planned to meet the needs of the parishioners especially those on the eastern side of Gympie Road.
The Archdiocese bought land on the corner of Gympie Road and Castle Street for £14,300. Mass was originally celebrated upstairs in the old house on the property: 6am, 7am, 8am and 9am.
To finance a new church on the block, Pizza Hut purchased some of the land for $62,500. Fr Frank O’Brien ofm was keen that the new chapel of ease be designed such as to encourage greater community and social use.
Archbishop Francis Rush blessed and opened the Portiuncula, the chapel of Our Lady of the Angels on 16th September 1973.
With an ever increasing number of parishioners, the Church on Turner Road could not hold the numbers. Fr Brendan Rogers began plans for its demolition and the erection of a new Church, a larger church and one designed to take into account the liturgical norms suggested by the Bishops of the Second Vatican Council.
The present Little Flower Church was built at a cost of about $175,000, with a $118,000 mortgage to be paid off. This present Church seats about 630, quite adequate for funerals and very popular for weddings ~ but the Sunday Mass in the early 70’s was an issue. A count one Sunday on February 1972 revealed 1,881 had attended the five Masses at the Little Flower, and a further 636 attended the four Masses at the temporary Chapel in Gympie Road.
Sadly, due to decreasing numbers attending Eucharist in the 1990’s and fewer Franciscan priests available for ministry at Kedron, the Chapel at Gympie Road, affectionately known as “The Port” closed with a final Mass on 4th October 1998. A welcoming Mass at the Little Flower was then celebrated on the following Sunday 11th October for those who had lost “The Port”.