For this purpose, St James's Church models an ancient Christian basilica. Because made of modern materials in 1925 when St James's Church was erected, some of the basilican features that had been structurally necessary 1,700 years ago were duplicated in the Coorparoo church simply as plaster of Paris imitations.
In the book Fr Hayes ably demonstrates that St James’s Church must have been commissioned by a proud and strong-willed pastor, a parish priest who wanted not merely a parish church but a neo-basilica. He suggests that Dean Jeremiah O’Leary’s strong will would have been necessary to have the architect willing to add the now-superfluous basicilian features, and to have the parishioners pay for them.
Credit goes also to the parish priest of Coorparoo from 1999 to 2006, Fr Denis Brendan Quirke O.S.A., who is now eighty years of age and in retirement in Dublin. He likewise had the determination to implement a restoration rather than a renovation of the interior fabric of the church. He had it repainted in the colour pattern that is still extant; it intentionally highlighted the church’s basilican features rather than simply paint over them.
For Fr Peter Hayes, this book was a patient and meticulous labour of love. Right from his years as a student for the priesthood sixty years ago, Fr Peter has demonstrated his innate engineering and construction skills in timber, glass and metal, with his diverse skills in practical engineering, carpentry and welding. Since being appointed to Coorparoo in 2001, Fr Peter has kept a skilled eye on St James’s Church literally from top to bottom, from water leaks in the ceiling to removing literally a truck full of broken bricks and timber off cuts lazily left under the building by the original bricklayers and carpenters in 1925.
The book has sixty-four pages and numerous colour photographs and diagrams. Its readers will soon appreciate the difference in the form and functions of a pilaster, a corbel and a keystone. The book, however, is not mainly a technical work but rather a lovingly told and very readable coverage of a significant church building and the vision of founding pastor who saw it through to completion.
To order a copy, visit the parish website at http://www.stjames-coorparoo.org.au