The St. Ignatius Church has been the worship centre for the Catholic Community of Toowong under the care of the Jesuit Fathers during two separate liturgical formats, the pre Vatican II Latin Mass rites at the High Altar and the post Vatican II Mass in the Vernacular with the Priest facing the people.
The Church has seen little alteration over the years except –
The lower floor, the present Parish Hall, was utilized for 18 years as the School. 2 Preparatory Grades and Grade 1 at the rear (present Out of School Hours Care and Stage Area), Grades 2 to 6 in main hall (no partitions) and Grade 7 in foyer. At the same time it was the venue for School Concerts, Fancy Dress Balls and the Parish Weekly Dance each Friday evening. Quite a good deal of furniture shifting took place each Friday after school and before school on Monday morning.
An extract from “The Age” dated January 3, 1929, records as follows:-
AROUND THE PARISHES
One of the finest designs of a Church yet exhibited in Brisbane, is that which has just been prepared for the Jesuit Fathers by Messrs. Hennessy & Hennessy, Architects. If the good Fathers and their people succeed in erecting it, it will be a perpetual monument to their faith and generosity. Truly the design put into concrete form will be “a thing of beauty and a joy for ever”. We trust that the many friends of the Jesuit Fathers will assist them to bring this beautiful building into being.”
The Catholic Community of Toowong first came together in 1879 at the home of Mr. F. Keogh, Burns Road, for a Mass.
By 1885 Archbishop Robert Dunne had acquired 6500 square metres of land in Holland Street up to Kensington Terrace.
A primitive stone church/school had been erected at Red Hill in 1881 and various priests had resided there, including Canon Belton who observed the development of the western suburbs following the establishment of the railway in 1875. On the 24th December, 1873 the 13m. x 6m. chapel of St. Laurence at Fig Tree Pocket had been blessed and opened on and donated by Mr. John Magee.
It was Canon Belton who organised the building of the first Church of St. Michael and All Souls, 19.4m. x 6.1m., in Holland Street which was blessed and opened on 9th April, 1893.
Following the appointment of James Duhig as Coadjutor Archbishop of Brisbane in 1912 due to Archbishop Robert Dunne’s failing health, the first parishes in Brisbane were formalized in 1915, Coorparoo, Kangaroo Point, South Brisbane, Red Hill and Rosalie.
Archbishop Duhig invited many religious orders of men and women to establish foundations in Brisbane. The Jesuits were invited to form the new parish of Toowong in 1916. The Sisters of Mercy had purchased “Goldicott” as a Convent in 1902 and in 1903 a Catholic School was established from 1903 in a 22m x 10m x 5m building beside the Church.
By 1928 the Church and School were proving inadequate for the needs of the parish. In November, 1928, a parish meeting was called to consider the building of a new church. 100 people attended. The Sisters of Mercy had previously applied to the authorities to move the School from Holland Street to beside the Convent. This was denied. At this meeting it was unanimously resolved to proceed with the project and erect a Church to cost approximately 10,000 pounds. To enable the School to come nearer to the Convent the Sisters donated a portion of their land to enable a new Church and School to be erected.
A further extract from “The Age” dated June 6, 1929 records as follows::-
DESIGN FOR THE NEW CHURCH OF ST. IGNATIUS LOLOYA
The new Catholic Church at Toowong will be the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, and is now in course of erection for the Jesuit Fathers, at the corner of Grove Street and Kensington Terrace. When completed, this building should rank as one of the handsomest Churches of its size in Queensland. Incorporated in the scheme beneath the floor of the nave will be a school, with an area similar to the Church above.
Adjoining the school will be an arcade, giving amply protection to the school, also providing a feature that is typical of this style of architecture, giving the irregular, though harmonious, appearance that is one of the traits of this beautiful Italian Romanesque style. This type of architecture originated in the early country churches in Italy between the ninth and twelfth centuries.
The building, which will be situated on the side of the most prominent hill in Toowong, has been designed especially to suit the site. With this in mind, the architects considered it necessary to introduce a tower.
The entire building will be carried out in brick with a Latin tile roof. The dimensions of the Church are as follows:- Overall length, 144 feet, including a narthex or vestibule entrance leading from the atrium in front. The overall width of the church is 37 feet, with an additional 10 feet for the Arcade.