The new church was officially blessed and opened in 1996 to replace the temporary timber building used for mass. Organic in form and featuring soaring timber ceilings, stained glass windows that reflect the history of St Francis of Assisi and with an imposing belltower, the church is entered from a circular community pedestrian arrival piazza.
The design of the church was the culmination of two years of collaborative discussion with the parish priest and the building committee to create their dream outcome and cater for the future expansion of the parish in this growth suburb.
Site planning was based on the traditional concept of the church being the central focus of the community by fronting the village square. It is the place where parishioners gather before entering the church and here it is reinforced with the construction of a circular colonnade similar to St Peter’s in Rome.
Seating for a congregation of 600 is arranged in a fan shape around the free-form tiled sanctuary with the pews only going 14 rows back, thus strengthening the community celebration of mass. The stone altar and lectern are balanced by the baptismal font integrated into the nave entry.
Internal features of the design include a full-height north facing stained glass window that depicts the life and journey of St Francis of Assisi and the face brickwork cross integrated into the rendered rear wall of the sanctuary.
Externally the use of brickwork is emphasised in the detailed design to window openings in the soaring curved walls. Emphasis on the visual linking of the interior of the church with the external landscaping is achieved with extensive floor to ceiling windows and highlight glazing.
The incorporation of an expansive fellowship area within the entry narthex caters for the changing use of church buildings as it is also a community facility where gatherings after services and parish meetings occur.
While the belltower dominates the suburban skyline of Mill Park, the church itself sits comfortably within the parish environs surrounded by the adjoining school, presbytery and multi-purpose centre.