Our church



Prior to 1923 the Catholics from New Farm attended St Patrick's in the Valley.  At this time Mr & Mrs Dempsey were the caretakers of “Wynberg” in Brunswick Street.  When Archbishop Duhig left "Darra", which was opposite All Hallows in Anne Street, and took up residence in Wynberg the Dempsey’s moved into a large house where the Holy Spirit school is today.  This house, which was owned by a solicitor by the name of Bunton, was bought by Archbishop Duhig as part of the New Farm Church property.  The back of this house was then used as a Mass Centre while planning and construction of the the occurred.

St. Patrick's still serviced this new area with Father O'Keeffe and Monsignor Lynch looking after both churches.  Miss Fuller prepared children for their First Holy Communion.  For their schooling they either went to St Patrick's in the Valley, the State School or one of the 4 private schools in the area.

After the Foundation Stone was laid in 1927, on Sunday 1st June 1930, His Excellency the Apostolic Delegate (Most Rev. B. Cattaneo) solemnly blessed and opened the new Church of the Holy Spirit, New Farm.  There was a very large attendance at the important ceremony, the church and grounds being filled to overflowing.  An imposing procession, which included the Children of Mary Sodality and St. Patrick’s Branch of the Hibernian Society proceeded from the grounds of “Wynberg” via Brunswick Street and Villiers Street to the church.

Architecture c.1930

The Church of the Holy Spirit was a remarkable addition to ecclesiastical buildings of Brisbane. Key details are;

  • architecture of Mr. Jack Donoghue

  • Stations of the Cross, designed by Miss Daphne Mayo. 

  • the fine sculptural group which fills the tympanum (space between lintel and arch of door) was also the work of Miss Daphne Mayo

  • magnificent large mural painting, of 12 angels and 6 cherubs, covering the semi-dome of the Sanctuary by Mr. William Bustard.  Young children from the parish were used as models for the little cherubs.  These were Vera and Leonard Dempsey, the late John Crowley, Brian O'Keefe, Joan Barrett (dec’d) and Alma O'Dea (now McMahon).

  • the beautiful stained glass windows by Messrs R.S. Exton and Co.

  • the marble altar by Mr. Williams of Ipswich (later removed in the early/mid ‘70s)

  • the fine ceiling by Mr. Martin and his artisans and

  • the Benedict Stone in the facade by Concrete Constructions (Mr. T. Mullins, Manager and Mr. J.W. Davies, Overseer).

At the opening of the church Rev Father O’Keeffe also presented the financial statement to those present.  The total to date expended on the building was £16,241.85, and of this sum £13,209.32 had already been paid, working on an overdraft of £5,000.  The estimated cost of the completed building with the tower was £14,862, with an additional £3,179 for church furnishing.  Offerings to date amounted to £9,300.  It was subsequently announced that the collection taken up during the afternoon amounted to over £2,500. 

His Grace the Archbishop (Most Rev. James Duhig D.D.) heartily congratulated Father O’Keeffe and his people on the splendid balance sheet.  Such generosity as the people of the Valley and New Farm had shown was rarely seen, he said.

By September 1930, the last touches had been put on the spire of the new Church and all the scaffolding had been removed revealing a really graceful structure, rising to a height of 127 feet.  Since the opening of the Church early in June the attendance had doubled.  On the previous Sunday the church was filled at both Masses and 250 had received Holy Communion.

The September 25 edition of The Catholic Leader carried a photo (from the “Brisbane Courier”) of Frank Scully, a parishioner who also worked for Claude Neon, at work on the cross on the tower of the Church where it was illuminated for the first time.  The brilliant electrical sign of the Cross was much admired from various parts of the city. 


Art Works and Sculpture

Art Works

The fresco behind the altar and above the choir loft were created by renowned artist William Bussard.


  • Daphne Mayo (1895–1982) was Australia’s leading woman sculptor of the mid twentieth century, and also a passionate advocate for the visual arts, who succeeded in creating cultural opportunities for her fellow Queenslanders. She was an outstanding sculptor and creator of some of Brisbane's grandest monuments, as well as a passionate advocate for the arts.

  • A woman of courage and commitment, Daphne Mayo resolved early on to become a sculptor. In 1911, she enrolled at Brisbane’s Central Technical College, studying under R Godfrey Rivers and LJ Harvey. Upon graduation in 1914, she was awarded Queensland’s first publicly-subscribed travelling art scholarship, enabling her to continue her studies at London’s Royal Academy of Arts. In 1923, she received the gold medal for sculpture – the Academy’s highest honour – which earned her a scholarship to Italy.

  • In 1925, Mayo returned to Brisbane in triumph. At the time, the city was experiencing a building boom and there were pleas to keep ‘our girl sculptress... constantly employed’. She was soon to create some of Brisbane’s grandest monuments, including the City Hall tympanum. In 1937, after a decade of great productivity, she travelled overseas to observe recent developments in art and, in 1940, she moved to Sydney.

  • Her work includes the Tympanum on the Brisbane City Hall and the Queensland Women's War Memorial in Anzac Square. Closer to home Daphane Mayo created the Tympanum at Holy Spirit Church, New Farm, Brisbane between 1929-1930 . This work is a Symmetrical bas relief tympanum representing "The Decent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles". It wascast in Benedict stone. It is 9ft high by 36ft wide.  Further, she sculpted the Stations of the Cross

  • While Ms Mayo enjoyed the patronage of influential artists and sculptors such as Sir Bertram Mackennal and Sir John Longstaff, she also had the influential support of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, the Most Reverend Dr James Duhig - who commissioned Mayo to do the Tympanum and the Stations of the Cross for the Church of the Holy Spirit, New Farm.

The rich fabric of Holy Spirit Parish

  • The Priests The Holy Spirit Church is unique in that the Archbishop has traditionally been its parish priest.  A priest who is referred to as an “Administrator” performs the day-to-day function.  The only exception to this was when Monsignor Dee returned to the parish in the ‘60s and our current parish Priest Father Ignacio who was installed on 29 August, 2014 by Archbishop Mark Coleridge.

  • The parish has had many priests (i.e. administrators) since opening in 1930. Below is a list of administrators and some of the milestones within the parish occurred during the time of the following priests.

    Father Dee was the administrator of the new parish with Archbishop Duhig as the parish priest.  To give you some insight into the type of man Father Dee was:  Funds were low as it was mainly a working class area and he had a tremendous task paying off the debt.  He was a man who got things done and as I was only a child at that time I only know what I have been told.  Father even walked behind the collectors to encourage the congregation to open their purses - a move that worked then with no expense to the parish.

    Father Dee was to later return to the parish as Monsignor Dee in the early 60's as parish priest fulfilling a wish to return to his early parish in his later years. 

    Father Denis O'Rourke followed Father Dee. 

    Father Kevin Aspinall was responsible for a very flourishing YCW.  The altar boys at this time numbered about 30.  He was also responsible for building the Parish Hall (1966 … and was also the year decimal currency was introduced). 

    There was also a very active Youth Club and later, Young Adult Club.  Many of the now very older parishioners had sons and daughters who hold fond memories of those times.  Stories and anecdotes of this period are a separate story in themselves.

    Father Rollo Enright had the convent refurbished ready for the nuns to move from All Hallows (on 30th August 1970).  The McGregor family originally owned the house that became the convent.  When they finally agreed to sell it to the Archbishop he rented it out first of all to Dr A.J. Morton and then finally to Dr Stoll who was there for many years.

    Father John Nee was responsible for work to the presbytery and the Parish Centre (10th August 1975). The Church’s Golden Jubilee was celebrated on Saturday June 14, 1980 when Archbishop Rush, of Brisbane, officiated at a Mass and delivered the homily.  A social function followed in the Holy Spirit Hall.  Clergy and religious, who had served at New Farm over the years and ex-parishioners were present.

    Father Kerry Ryan had the Mercy Room built.

    Father Leo Coote carried on the work of his predecessors in a capable and efficient manner between 1992 to 2014. Fr Leo was a much loved member of the New Farm Community


Our Parish

Holy Spirit was an active parish from the start, with Irish Concert’s occurring each year and the youth playing such a large part in keeping the parish together.

Nell Breen was the first singer (cantor) for the parish, Ollie Sheehy the organist and Mrs Carrington, current parishioner Christine Short's grandmother, keeping the brass gleaming like gold.  First Communion just doesn't seem the same now as when Andy Lamb would boil up the big copper to get water for the tea for the parents of the First Communicants.

The Holy Name Society filled over half the church with men both old and young.   The altar boys numbered about 30 strong not to mention the Sacred Heart, Children of Mary and Holy Angels.   Pentecost Sunday was a day when we felt extra proud to be Catholics.   There would be all day exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and then at night all the sodalities would march into the church.

Church of the Holy Spirit had the unique honour to be the first church in the Southern Hemisphere to be called this name. Much of this history was compiled by Joan Kopelke from records held by her and her late husband, George Kopelke and with assistance from past and existing parishioners.