Divine Mercy Church has been under construction since 2011. The goal is to create a church that will be a pilgrimage site and "an oasis of peace and mercy," as announced in a video for the construction project. Funds have dried up, and the parish is launching a new fundraising campaign to finish building the church.
Church Militant reached out to Fr. Paul Fox, the priest in the construction campaign video. He explained that the constructed church will be one of several scattered churches in the parish of Our Lady of the Visitation. He wrote, "My parish is very scattered and encompasses three established towns about 30 minutes apart and a new settlement called Maryville in Lower Chittering. It is usual to have a church in each town."
The currently half-built church is associated with Immaculate Heart College (IHC), a Catholic independent primary school founded in Perth in 2012. Father Fox told Church Militant, "I was instructed by the archbishop of Perth to ensure that the new Divine Mercy Church is large enough to have a whole-of-school Mass."
We asked Fr. Fox what will make Divine Mercy Church unique, and he emphasized the church's traditional architecture:
A great deal of thought has gone into designing the Divine Mercy Church. It has been designed according to the hermeneutic of continuity, drawing on the very best in Church architecture and using modern construction techniques such as tilt-up concrete for the walls to achieve the desired result. It will be a truly inspiring building built in Romanesque style where one will feel spiritually uplifted because beauty leads to contemplation! We are aiming to ornament the interior with frescoes on the dome and a beautiful sanctuary, altar and reredos. The center of the reredos will be a mosaic of the Divine Mercy. Sadly, so many new churches look too much like halls. This church will look like a church!
A "reredos" is the wall or screen immediately behind a high altar. It is often very ornate; a common design is to have alcoves for statues of saints on either side, flanking a large central image situated above the tabernacle in the center.
When Mass is offered ad orientem (i.e. with the priest symbolically "facing east," with his back to the pews), the high altar and the reredos are the physical focal point of the liturgy.
The IHC, the school attached to Divine Mercy Church, is now in the process of adding a secondary school. Principal Lucas Hurley told us in an email on November 9, "We currently have Years K–8. Next year, Year 9 will be added, and we are progressing towards Year 12 by 2021."
We asked Hurley about the state of Divine Mercy Church's construction. He wrote, "Regarding the church construction, at present it has come to a standstill, as the parish has run dry of the funds needed to get it operational at least."
Michael Voris visited IHC in 2013. In an episode of The Vortex, he called it "yet another sign of the restoration beginning all over the Catholic world."
Independent Catholic schools similar to IHC are popping up in the United States, too. Some attribute this to a failure on the part of the modern Catholic school system to teach the authentic faith.
Heterodoxy is rampant in many Catholic institutions, and faithful Catholics often choose other means to raise their children in the Faith.
For instance, the introduction of Common Core in U.S. Catholic schools received backlash from some parents. Some parents even pulled their children from parochial schools in favor of Catholic homeschooling and independent Catholic schools.
Furthermore, U.S. Catholics schools are experiencing a rapid demographic decline. An episode of Dispatches described a vicious cycle, where fewer practicing Catholics means fewer students at Catholic schools, which means higher tuition, which leads to even fewer students, which leads to even higher tuition.
Contributing to this decline is the obliteration of religious life. Fewer consecrated religious means Catholic schools have to hire more laity, who need much bigger paychecks than those with vows of poverty.
Many schools like this in the United States are under the banner of the National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools (NAPCIS).