by JEFF DILLON
About 20 kilometres as a Victorian crow flies, in an eastern direction from the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, you will find St Philip’s parish in Blackburn North. Or at least you certainly should find it now with the help of a New Zealand contribution.

The new crucifix at  St Philip’s parish in Blackburn North, Melbourne.
The new crucifix at St Philip’s parish in Blackburn North, Melbourne.

Previously the parish church and school were not easily spotted as you travelled along Junction Rd, with substantial trees and shrubs along the frontage largely screening what was beyond. A significant landscaping remodelling has seen the area transformed and now makes a clear statement in the neighbourhood.
Trees have been trimmed or removed and a Rosary garden has been established with seating. The centrepiece in that space is a substantial 2.8 metre crucifix, which is lit at night, on a 1.5 metre base. The crucifix is completed with Christ’s figure, which has a Christchurch, New Zealand, connection.
The figure owes its origin to one that existed in the central grounds of the Carmelite Monastery in Christchurch. The original concrete figure had been deteriorating, so the sisters had it replaced with a fibreglass one. A mould was taken of the original by Mark Gibson, who then created the fibreglass replica.
A St Philip’s parish connection who was aware of what was happening contacted Sr Dorothea in Christchurch and was put in touch with Mr Gibson. Using the mould, another replica was made and shipped to Melbourne. When that arrived it was attached to the crucifix, which had been made in the city and then set up in the centre of the Rosary garden as a palpable sign of the existence of the Catholic church and school in the neighbourhood.
Now, everyone knows exactly where St Philip’s parish is as they travel along in that part of Melbourne, thanks to a bit of Anzac cooperation.

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