Our Parish of All Hallows was originally part of Our Holy Redeemer Parish, Surrey Hills. There was considerable population growth in Balwyn in the immediate post-war years and the parish became a parish in its own right in January 1959 with the appointment of Fr Jim Shorten as the first parish priest.
To be saints is not a privilege of the few but a vocation for everyone. Pope Francis
All Hallows Church feast day
Almost every day of the year is dedicated to the feast day of one or more saints. However there are many more saints then those whose feast days we specifically celebrate. There are saints who are yet to be canonised and those who are in heaven but whose sainthood is only known to God. The increased persecutions of the martyrs by the late Roman Empire led to the local dioceses instituting a common feast day to ensure that all saints whether they be known or unknown were properly honoured – All Saints, which in Western Christianity is observed on 1 November each year and the Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic Churches observe All Saints Day on the first Sunday following Pentecost.
So where did our All Hallows Parish rise from?
Our Parish of All Hallows was originally part of Our Holy Redeemer Parish, Surrey Hills. There was considerable population growth in Balwyn in the immediate post-war years and the parish became a parish in its own right in January 1959 with the appointment of Fr Jim Shorten as the first parish priest. Within a year of separating from Surrey Hills Parish, the land on the corner of Brenbeal and Jurang Streets was cleared in preparation for the construction of the new church. On 29 July 1962, the All Hallows Church was blessed and opened and emphasised the resolve of the Balwyn parishioners that the church be seen and honoured as a memorial to the fallen of two world wars. With the zealous cooperation of the parishioners and Fr Shorten, the debt on the church was repaid in full by 1972. A brief history of the parish is available on our website.
The naming of the church is attributed to Fr Gleeson, Parish Priest of Surrey Hills (1922-33) who saw that the Balwyn section of his parish needed their own church and negotiated the purchase of land in Brenbeal Street on which the first church-school was built (now All Hallows School site occupied by St Paul’s College, a specialist school). Fr Gleeson’s alma mater was All Hallows College, Dublin where he had undertaken his priestly studies.
All Hallows Parish was amalgamated with Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in January 2013 to form the new Parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel and All Hallows, Deepdene & Balwyn.
What of our All Hallows parishioners – All Hallows has been an important fixture in the life of many of our parishioners. This week I caught up with a few parishioners of All Hallows who reflected on their time at the parish:
No place in Melbourne I would rather be
Kath: My family were from regional Victoria with my eldest sister marrying a returned serviceman in the late 1940’s and settling in Melbourne which resulted in regular visits to the city by the family. A few years after my sister married, they bought a block of land at the bottom of Weir Street, Balwyn where they built their family home. I would visit them regularly over the years, always attending Mass with them at All Hallows. It was a vibrant church and I met many lovely people. When I retired I planned on living in my grandmother’s house in Hopetoun. I lasted 9 months – it was too quiet and I missed Melbourne. I initially returned to work, regularly visiting my family in Balwyn and attending All Hallows Parish. An ad in the All Hallows Parish newsletter one weekend led me to finally settling into retired life in Balwyn.
Very friendly, close knit Parish
Peg: We moved to Balwyn shortly after we were married. Originally we settled in Northcote and when we were looking to move mum said “move further away”, so we decided on Balwyn. We settled here in 1960 when Masses were still held in the church-school. I remember attending the opening of the new church in 1962 – it was a lovely, memorable day. In those days, the church was full of people. You had to arrive at least 10 minutes before the start of Mass to get a seat. There would be the annual parish picnic in the hills. You would take everything up yourselves and share your treats, such happy times. We were so fortunate we used to know everybody and the priests we have had have been wonderful.
Very comfortable place to live and pray
Carmel: We came to the parish in 1968 for a few years, before moving overseas for three years and then returning once again to All Hallows Parish. The children all went to school at All Hallows Primary School. It was a full church in those early years at the parish with many young families, some Sundays parishioners had to take a seat in the choir loft as there was not a seat left in the church. The Parish had a lot of activities including Bingo every week. Great friendships were made. When it came to downsizing from the family home, the children all said to move somewhere else, but we said no, we knew everyone here and were quite happy in our parish.
Feeling of a country parish
Tim: Mum and I moved into the parish in 1977 after spending many years in the surrounding suburbs. When we came here the parish was an active and vibrant parish with a busy school. Bingo was a very popular weekly activity that was held in the School Hall – mum’s favourite outing. We always found the church very comfortable and inviting. As the church is not on a main road it was and is always a lovely quiet place to stop and chat with parishioners after Mass.
In the words of Pope Francis let the Church always be a place of Mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven. What nicer words to reflect on the feast of All Hallows.