Rounding the gentle bend of the country road on arrival at Maryville, one is greeted by the towering presence of the new Divine Mercy Shrine.
A 25 m high florentine copper dome and formidable romanesque walls, punctuated by arched windows and clad in local stone, one is immediately inspired by the presence of a vital faith alive in this unexpected oasis.
The project is a labour of love and faith, brought to this point by a small community of faithful led by the Parish Priest Fr Paul Fox, designer draftsman and parishioner Peter Anthes and inspired by the Architecture of Monsignor John Hawes.
Father Paul Fox was born into a devout Catholic farming family in the Lower South-West. He has two younger sisters and one older brother. Having qualified as an accountant and worked in the Government for many years, Father Paul moved to Perth as a young man. After entering Pre-Seminary in 1993, Archbishop Hickey accepted him as a candidate for the Priesthood, sending him to Rome to study at the Pontifical Beda College. 1998, he completed his studies at St Thomas Aquinas University earning a degree in Theology (high honors). June 1998 saw Father Paul ordained as a deacon in St Paul’s Basilica Rome.
Fr Paul was appointed to St Mary’s Cathedral as a Deacon in July 1998 and was ordained as a Priest on 9th October 1998. He was appointed as an Assistant Priest for the Cathedral in July 1998. His appointment to Gingin-Chittering Parish followed in May 2000. Currently serving his fourth term as Parish Priest in Gingin-Chittering, he just celebrated his Silver Jubilee. He lives in Lower Chittering’s Presbytery at the Divine Mercy Shrine.
Appointed by then Archbishop Barry Hickey to the Gingin- Chittering Parish, Western Australia in 2000, Fr Paul Fox inherited a parish of four centres that between them could only boast of a single Parish Church. With great faith and zeal Fr Paul set about remedying this situation by first renovating the existing church of St Catherine’s in Gingin, which had been closed down due to an infestation of bees and then, with the untiring help of volunteers, building St Anne’s Church in Bindoon.
Fr Paul’s thoughts then turned to Lower Chittering. Providentially gifted with a generous parcel of land in a beautiful glade in stunning Lower Chittering at the centre of the envisioned Maryville Development, it was here that the vision of the Divine Mercy Shrine gradually emerged in Fr Paul’s mind.
During four years of study for the priesthood in Rome, Fr Paul profited regularly from the ancient catholic tradition of “pilgrimage” so widely practiced throughout the centuries in Europe and still so accessible through the innumerable holy sites spread throughout its cities and towns. Desirous to foster this grace-filled tradition in Australia, Fr Paul began to see the enormous potential of the Chittering location as a holy destination of pilgrimage for the faithful of the archdiocese. And what devotion could be closer to the heart of the faithful and more relevant for our difficult times than to dedicate the Shrine to the greatest attribute of God, His unfathomable Divine Mercy as revealed to St Faustina Kowalska of Poland.
After several years of prayer and planning and through the skills of designer Peter Anthes, a wonderful design for the Divine Mercy Shrine was produced. This was subsequently approved by the Archdiocese and then as if to confirm everything, in 2011 a generous bequest was received, allowing construction of the Shrine to begin. Through further generous donations, despite some delays in the ensuing years, the essential structure of the Shrine is nearing completion.
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