St Emilie’s humble beginnings happened on 19 March, 2001 when Fr Robert Carrillo, appointed by Archbishop Hickey as the Parish Priest, took up residence at an Archdiocese owned house in Amherst Road at Canning Vale. This began an odyssey that after 9 years saw coming together of a large vibrant community and the building and blessing of a new church named after its patron St Emilie de Vialar.
There were many hurdles encountered during the journey. In the early days Mass was celebrated in the Parish House. It was not an unusual occurrence at the time for parishioners to be asked to bring their own chairs.
As the faithful community grew it became necessary to find larger venues. Thankfully through their generosity, local primary school facilities were used at very reasonable rates. But this was not without its burdens having to transport chairs and portable altar to and fro the venue located 5 miles from the Parish centre. This process was repeated each weekend for about 4 years.
With God’s grace and despite the hardships, the faithful dedicated their time and energy to ensuring that Eucharist was celebrated each week. The close ties between families in the Parish, bolstered by frequent social gatherings such as shared meals, dinner/dances and fellowships encouraged by the Parish Priest, made any sacrifice encountered a pleasure to accept.
God’s blessing also extending to receiving welcomed resources from other parishes, including a large number of metal chairs. In winter the cold metal chairs had a way of wiping off the smile of many a parishioner’s face.
Things became a little easier when St Emilie’s Primary School was built and Mass services were transferred to that school’s undercover area in December, 2004. Now the chairs and altar did not have to be transported but could be stored on site. So while the venue had to be set up each Saturday and reconditioned after Sunday Mass, the task was much less onerous.
From the very inception of the Parish all sacramental programs began. First communion, confirmations and RCIA programs were often celebrated in make shift surroundings, but always in the joy of the Holy Spirit. Nothing deterred the community from worshiping the Father of all Goodness. Hardships experienced were offered up for the establishment of the parish, and the joy of communal sharing was accepted as God’s special blessings.
The Naming of St Emilie’s Parish
In his usual consensus democratic style, Father Robert invited parishioners to participate in the process of naming our Parish. In October, 2001 parishioners were asked to submit names and give a brief outline of why they chose that name. At the close of nominations, nineteen names had been submitted.
Following this, all the names and outlines were presented and parishioners were asked to vote on which name they preferred. Father Robert then took the three most popular names voted upon to the Archbishop and subsequently on August, 2002 the parishioners were advised that St. Emilie de Vialar was the preferred name for the Parish.
As it turned out our Parish is the only one in the world dedicated to and named St Emilie de Vialar, foundress of the Sisters of St Joseph the Apparition. Remarkably when reading the story of the Sisters’ journey to establish their Order in Australia they travelled by ship called Amherst. A coincidence maybe that St Emilie’s Church was established in Amherst Road in Canning Vale?
Bishop Don Sproxton was invited to officially confirm the name of St. Emilie de Vialar on the Parish. This was done at the ‘Naming Mass celebrated by the bishop in October, 2004.
Founding Parish Priest
We have been blessed with having our first and only Parish Priest in the name of Father Robert Carrillo. He has been a true leader, not only in developing our faith but in creating an environment for the community to flourish. In 2002 he celebrated his 25th year as a priest. Father Robert has shown dedication to this Parish in his usual welcoming disposition, facing the various challenges surrounding his pastoral care and church projects, with an ever responsive attention to the call of duty including his tender loving care for his family back in the Philippines.
It was here in Canning Vale that Father Robert faced his biggest challenge in his long time in ministry: the building of community and a Church building. The enormity of this project has never put a dent in Father Robert’s optimism. He possesses the unquestionable faith that through God’s will and the parishioners’ efforts and sacrifices, that one day a church was attainable; a church to serve the people of Canning Vale and the many generations to come, who will be encouraged to emulate the teachings of our Catholic faith for the benefit of its children in particular and also society in general.
Despite all the hindrances and the sometimes tumultuous journey, Father Robert with his attributes and the unwavering support from the people of this parish, witnessed the building of a new church named after St Emilie (de Vialar). The new church is a testimony to the hard work, commitment and prayers of our community and in particular of our much-loved spiritual leaders, Father Robert Carrillo (parish priest) and long serving Pastoral Assistant, Sister Margaret Mary.
St Emilie de Vialar Catholic Church is a church which by the grace of God was built by the people, for all people to worship the one true God. This is inherent in its declared mission statement. New parishioners are greeted, warmly welcomed, introduced and encouraged to take an active part in the life of the church. Visitors to the church are invited to partake in sacrificial celebrations, participate in the after Mass fellowships and encouraged to return to join us whenever possible.
The same invitation is extended to you, the reader.