St Michael's Parish, bell Park. Incorporating the churches of Holy Family Bell Park, Ss Peter & Paul Geelong West and Holy Spirit Manifold Heights


Toward Tomorrow’s Church in Archbishop Little’s time, deaneries were asked to discern how they would operate with 2 or 3 less priests.

The Geelong Deanery set up a discernment team with each parish represented. The team prayerfully reflected on the situation. The concern expressed by the laity was that if parishes are partnered the priests workload is going to be heavier and priests will be more and more isolated. The best answer to this problem was to form clusters of three parishes with 2 priests in each cluster.

When Fr. Gerry Spillane moved from Bell Park to Gisborne it was decided that there would be no replacement for him.  I was on the Personnel Board and I gained the approval of the Board for the priests of the Geelong Deanery to be consulted as a group. Fr Maurie Cooney facilitated the discussion and the priests agreed to the formation of a cluster of Bell Park, Geelong West and Manifold parishes sharing 2 priests.

Fr Grenville was in favour of the Pastoral Cluster but did not wish to be one of the two priests involved. I was happy to be one of the priests but considered that a younger priest should head up the project.  The Personnel Board accepted the proposal early in October 2000.  Archbishop Pell announced that the Pastoral Cluster come into being from January 1st 2001, but until the personnel were in place, Fr Grenville was to remain parish priest of Manifold and Fr Fitzpatrick be parish priest of Geelong West and Administrator of Bell Park.

Although efforts were made to plan early, lack of involvement from the Manifold Parish made it difficult to implement some of the necessary changes. Hence there was no preparation of the people for this new venture and in fact it was not until May 2002 when Fr. Keith replaced Fr. Grenville, to become the parish priest of the three parishes and begin working as a cluster.

Fr. Mick Fitzpatrick.


Photo Gallery - Fr Mick's Golden Jubilee