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A Century in Mittagong

18/10/2006: Australia - Photo gallery

On 1st October the Marist Brothers celebrated their 100 years in the Southern Highlands with a spe¬cial Mass to bless their recently refurbished chapel. About 350 people attended the Mass, which unveiled around two years of planning and work on the chapel.

Director of The Hermitage Brother Michael Akers said they decided to refurbish and update the chapel, which was built in 1927, as part of the centenary celebrations. It is the central focus of the property for prayer, mass and liturgy, he said.
He said they felt the refur¬bishment was necessary to update the look of the church. For us, it strikes a note for the future, a hopeful future when some church institutions are falling away.

The Brothers commissioned MarkWeichard, a liturgical artist from Melbourne, to design the interiors for the chapel. It started with us gaining an understanding of the whole project, not just in terms of the chapel, MrWeichard said. The brothers were keen to see something contemporary that would focus the attention to the chapel. Mr Weichard said it was essential to make sure church design reflects modern culture. We tried to create something uniquely Australian, but at the same time, also uniquely Marist. He focused on more modern materials such as Tasmanian Huon pine and stainless steel. The design moves away from the traditional dark, heavy woods used in church construction and furniture towards lighter, more modern woods in lighter colours. Mr Weichard said since the Marist Brothers are a teaching order, many young people will be visiting the chapel, so it need to be modern to appeal to them.
The two original stained glass windows from the front of the chapel were moved to the back of the chapel. Their replace¬ments are made of clear glass, drawing in the beauty of the countryside and allowing natu¬ral light to filter through.

The Hermitage has been through many changes over the last 100 years.
The property was purchased from Dr Edwin Chisholm in 1905. For its first 74 years, the Hermitage was used as the Novitiate, a training centre for young men to become brothers. In 1985, it was transferred to Sydney and the vacated premis¬es were set aside for the young adult ministry. In 1917, a sec¬ondary school for aspiring brothers called the Juniorate moved to Mittagong, where it remained until its closure in 1972.
In 2005, the Novitiate was returned to the Mittagong site, and after several name changes, the site returned to its original name of the Hermitage in 2006.

Today, the 155-hectare prop¬erty supports 100 head of cattle and has 13 hectares of grapevines.
Brother Michael said they were planning to open a cellar door for Marist Brothers Wines next year.

The propertys key purpose today is to act as a place of reju¬venation and retreat in a spiritu¬al sense, for the local community and further afield.
The refurbishment of the Chapel is just part of the celebra¬tions of the Marist Brothers cen¬tenary at Mittagong.

A dinner was held On Saturday night, which included the launch of the book A Hermitage in the South. The book, by Brother Tony Butler, reflects on the story of the Marists in Mittagong from 1906 until the present day.
(Leigh Tonkin Southern Highlands News, Monday, October 2, 2006)

Our most sincere congratulations are extended to The Hermitage Community for the experience so many hundreds of people were afforded last weekend.
The carefully planned and superbly executed events were good for the soul, and the body.
Thanks to everyone who has assisted in making Mittagong what it is and what it can become.
The Bishop said he was a lucky man to have the Brothers in his Diocese and so involved in assisting and serving people in so many ways. The creation of such a beautiful chapel delighted him. (Br. John Thompson)

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