The western suburbs community is the big winner from the sale of the Old Friary and Brookfield Spiritual Centre by the Anglican Church Southern Queensland to the Uniting Church’s Blue Care.
Under the agreement, the sale will ensure the retention of the heritage and community area on the site for ongoing community use.
An advisory group, consisting of representatives from both parties, has been established to provide advice and recommendations for the future use of the amenity.
Blue Care is currently working to define its future plans for the 2.64-hectare site, to complement their existing Iona Retirement Village and Residential Aged Care Facility on an adjoining site.
The property features the Old Friary and Chapel, which are a significant part of the site’s heritage, owned and used by the Anglican Church since 1932.
It has also been used by many groups within the local community for several decades.
ACSQ Group Manager (Property) Hiro Kawamata said the Old Friary site had served the western suburbs community in various guises over many decades and had been valued by the local community.
“While most of the history of the area was connected to the Anglican Church, the Uniting Church has also been well connected to the local community for many years through its adjoining aged care facility,” Mr Kawamata said.
“So, there is a sense of appropriateness that the Uniting Church, through Blue Care, becomes the custodian of the Old Friary property and buildings.”
Blue Care’s General Manager of Strategic Property & Investment Simone Dalley said that the special conditions of the sale would ensure that the Old Friary remains a community-focussed heritage oasis for generations to come.
“The intention of both parties is to allow for the continuing local community use of the buildings,” Ms Dalley said.
“Blue Care is strongly committed to keeping all community stakeholders up to date on our future plans for this site as they evolve.”
The advisory group will give specific regard to:
- Maintaining a sense of tranquillity as well as a reflection space for prayer and worship
- Respecting and celebrating the history of the heritage/community area;
- Designing the redevelopment as a setting that respects the cultural heritage significance of the area.
The Old Friary complex was established on land that was purchased in 1876 by Charles Patterson, an early timber merchant.
In June 1932, The Rev’d Robert Bates, Rector of All Saints, Wickham Terrace, established a home for aged men – the St John’s House of Rest – which was opened on the 10-hectare site. In 1933, Fr Bates purchased more farmland where he bred dairy cattle. The Friary Chapel which stands today was constructed in 1971.
In 1967, St Christopher’s Lodge became the site of the first Australian Friary of the Society of St Francis. The Brothers took lifelong vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and worship and worked in the community through Meals on Wheels, as well as providing assistance with the Ecumenical Coffee Brigade, which served food refreshments to people sleeping rough and park dwellers. They also pioneered residential care for men living with psychiatric illnesses, young men on probation orders and those who had served prison sentences needing rehabilitation, as well as offering the venue as a retreat to others seeking peace and serenity.
The Brothers were united through a ritual of communal prayer which took place four times a day.
Kenmore-Brookfield Anglican Parish Rector The Rev’d Jan Crombie said she and the local parish were encouraged by the news that the Anglican Church Southern Queensland had been able to negotiate with a buyer who has listened to the local community’s wishes.
“The main hope of those who have cared for the spiritual and community work of the Old Friary over many years is that the sacred heart of the heritage area will continue to influence future activity,” The Rev’d Crombie said.
“The story of this site is of deep connection spiritually and of community engagement and service, through decades of being a school, the Old Friary and a spirituality centre.”Jump to next article