St James the Apostle Parish church at its consecration in December 2000; note that the cross had yet to be fitted
After nine months of construction the new church was opened and consecrated on 17th December 2000 by Archbishop George Pell. The day of official opening and consecration of the new church was incredibly hot with an outside temperature of 40°C. With the incense brazier burning, it was even hotter inside the church than it was outside! The ceremony started outside with the builder handing the church key to the Archbishop who then gave it to Fr Peter. Fr Peter then invited everyone inside for the Consecration Mass.
The church walls and the altar were consecrated with the oil of Chrism; the candle holders on the four grey steel posts mark the place of the consecration. The unsealed rock Altar absorbed litres of oil poured out by the Archbishop, one could still smell the beautiful Chrism oil for days later. The stain on the surface rock and the faint whiff of the balm in Chrism remains to this day.
Local stone sourced from a property at the northern end of Tarneit Road, was used for the Altar, Baptismal Font, Lectern and Tabernacle stand. These were prepared by a Buddhist Japanese stonemason; after the Mass of Consecration the stonemason reverently sealed the relics in the altar. The relics were placed in the altar come from St Peter Julian Eymard, Fr Peter’s patron saint, and St Oliver Plunkett, the parish Fr Peter grew up in was dedicated to this saint. Rowena, a parishioner, wrote to Ireland asking for a relic of St Oliver Plunkett to be placed in the Altar for the new church, and amazingly a relic arrived in the mail!
The Stations of the Cross came from the Sacred Heart Hospital chapel in Moreland, the Sisters had commissioned them from Germany in the 1960s. Fr Peter came across these Stations of the Cross when he was looking around for furniture for the portable church. They were kept stored away for many years, awaiting the day when they would be proudly mounted on the walls of the new church.
The Tabernacle was also found at the same time, it came from the Vaucluse Hospital chapel in Brunswick. The tabernacle was originally set into a wall and was refurbished to its present state now for the new church.
The Cross on top of the main entrance of the church was constructed from reclaimed timber from the old Freemantle Wharf while the bell was a gift from St Peter Apostle Mission Parish. The Crucifix, and the statues of Our Lady and of St James were especially carved for St James by the noted religious sculptor Leopoldine Mimovich. The St James statue includes the hat, scallop shell and staff associated with mediaeval European pilgrims.