Jin-ga-ree means ‘hello’ in the local indigenous language of the Yugambeh People language group their territory lying between Logan and Tweed Rivers. The local family is the Kombumerri people of whom we have a close working relationship in the parish and especially in our parish Marymount Primary School and Marymount College where the local indigenous children belong to what we call the Marymount Mob.
One famous personality was Gowonda. Gowonda who trained dogs to chase game into ambush, was a great Kombumerri hero. When he lay down for his final sleep the people were sorely distressed. Later, children were playing on a stretch of beach between the Nerang River and the ocean when one called out: 'Look, Gowonda! Out there on the waves.' Soon all the clan had gathered to watch Gowonda. He had taken the form of a dolphin, but they could recognise him by his white fin! According to this legend, every school of dolphins has a leader with a white fin, which is a descendant of Gowonda or some other hunter.
It is fitting to begin this welcome with an acknowledgment of the First Peoples as custodians past present and emerging, of the land our parish is built. The artwork (above) is outside Mary Mother of Mercy Church and recognises the history and highlights the story of white fin Gowonda.
Our parish is steeped in the beginnings of the Logan Mission and the first church in what would become our parish was built in 1878 (or 1877) called All Saints’, a simple slab hut church. This church was rebuilt 1904 (1905) and later extended in 1929. This church was to be called St Patrick’s but people went with St Malachy’s a name given to the church site from 1888. Fr Scortechini, for whom Mass came out of a saddle bag, as he rode the three-month circuit celebrating in various homes and places for the pioneer Catholic families. One tiny reference in the Dolan family archives notes a Mass in Maybury area in 1875. Is this the first recorded Mass in our parish area?
From Southport parish in the late 1800s our parish area came under the Parish of Coolangatta in 1924 with Fr Leo Carlton. The people of Burleigh area were cared for and instructed by the priests and by the untiring mission of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Various Christmas Masses were celebrated at Palm Beach and Burleigh until 1933.
On the 27th January 1935, the Old Infant Saviour Church was opened and blessed by Archbishop James Duhig. And later on November 21st 1956 the day arrived that Burleigh Heads was proclaimed its own parish with Fr L. Brian Graham as the new Parish Priest.
The canonical name of the parish is Infant Saviour Parish – but most people today refer to the parish as Burleigh Catholic Parish.
This is the largest parish in Australia – people wise – with 33,000 as of 2021. The parish was literally carved out an existence from forest, rock, sand, and swamp and the lives of so many dedicated people.
Our five Catholic Communities are located on the southern end of the Gold Coast at Burleigh Heads, Burleigh Waters, Miami, Mudgeeraba, Palm Beach and Springbrook. Each church community is active and welcoming, and strives to celebrate liturgy and life with vitality and reverence. Each community is blessed with diversity among its members. The elderly and the young, the retired and the working family, the regular visitors and the holiday makers all form the rich cultural diversity of our catholic parish.
We are a Parish of Pilgrim People committed to faith through the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Brisbane and in service of the community - Eucharistic, Marian, Sainted, Biblical, Evangelists and Just. We are a vibrant community. Not perfect but striving for holiness.
Fr Morgan Batt