Published: 20 March 2019
The mendicant religious orders founded within the Catholic Church in the thirteenth century (Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians, Carmelites, etc.) by intention did not have monasteries as physically permanent residences, but built friaries or priories.
From these they departed and resettled elsewhere according to the pastoral needs of the people whom they served. (The word “mendicant” comes from the Latin word mendicare, meaning to wander or to beg.)
In celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of St Augustine’s Priory at Brookvale (Sydney, Australia) this traditional pattern is exemplified. During the six decades the “Brookvale Priory” has been three buildings on three different streets.
“Moving house” three times was prompted by a range of pragmatic reasons, e.g., that a larger building was required, or that the college which was the Augustinian community’s main ministry needed the land upon which the Priory stood to enable school expansion. The latter was the fate of four houses that were the Priory or part of a set of priory buildings.
When in 1977 candidates to the Augustinian Order began to be sent to the Brookvale Priory rather than to an earlier residence in Brisbane, this increased the demand for a larger Priory in Brookvale.
This Augustinian formation of candidates and laity then grew into being the predominant ministry undertaken by the Priory.
What follows is extracted from a first-hand reminiscence of the beginning of the Brookvale Priory in March 1956. It was written a number of years ago by Fr David Brimson O.S.A. who participated as the first Prior (religious leader) at the Priory.
“St Augustine’s College formally began early in February 1956 with 74 boys. The fees were £6.10.0 per term!!! Fr. Joseph Moran (Stephen) taught 4th Grade and I taught 5th Grade in the Church Hall, as the first section of the College was only starting to rise.”
1956; Fr Brimson is on the right
“We lived at St. Kieran’s Priory, Manly Vale, and travelled back and forth daily, so it was necessary immediately to go house hunting. Fortunately, the house in Gulliver Street came on the market and we were able to move in on 19 March 1956, having purchased basic items of new and second-hand furniture.”
“There was a really fine spirit all around us. A good indication of this is that on 17 March we had been given a “kitchen-tea” in the Church Hall. A great crowd turned up bringing cutlery, crockery, house linen, electrical goods, etc., etc., a wonderful time was had by all and our cupboards were well furnished for our formal arrival on 19 March! The Augustinian community would grow steadily over the years until in 1964 we had eleven priests and two brothers in the community.”
The sixtieth anniversary was celebrated by a Mass of Thanksgiving and by a meal that the Augustinian community shared with Augustinians from elsewhere in Sydney who attended these events.