Our lost buildings: Capuchin Friary, Wynnum North - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views
Local History

Original Farmhouse (Friary) in 1953 at Wynnum North.


For a short time (1957 – 2002), there was a Friary at Wynnum North. St Laurence Friary of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars stood at the junction of Wynnum North and Tingal Roads.

The Order of the Franciscan Friars originated from Francis (1182 – 1226), the son of an affluent merchant born in the Italian town of Assisi who was given papal recognition in 1210. Poverty was their life. They helped the poor and owned nothing themselves. Their worldly goods were the property of the Catholic Church.

In 1525 the Order of the Franciscan Friars reformed into three separate Orders, one of these being the Order of Friar Minor Capuchin. Capuchin referred to the light reddish-brown robe with a pointed hood. (Cappuccino: Ital.) The Capuchins travelled amongst the community doing good, compared to monks who spent their lives in isolation, meditation and prayer. The Capuchin Order gradually spread worldwide.

On October 2, 1945, at the request of the Apostolic Delegate for Australia and His Grace Archbishop Duhig, four Capuchin Friars arrived in Brisbane from New Jersey, USA:

  • Fr Accursio Rasi was to be the superior of the Capuchin Mission in Australia.
  • Fr Gabriel d’Italia was to be the Parish Priest of Wynnum.
  • Fr Anastase Paoletti was to look after the Italians in Brisbane, Toowoomba and Townsville.
  • Fr Egidio Scarpini was to go to the Diocese of Townsville for the Italian apostolate there.

Fr Gabriel was officially welcomed into the Wynnum Catholic Parish on December 10, 1945. He was replaced by Fr Carlo di Matteo and Fr James Resci in 1948. In 1949, Fr Boniface Zurli arrived in Wynnum to help the Italians in Brisbane. There was continual change. Friars did not stay in one location for many years and moved to various other parishes worldwide.

In 1953, the Wynnum Capuchin Order purchased a property in Wynnum West, next to the State School, as a ‘House of Studies’ for Capuchin students. However, later in the same year, the friars found property at the northern end of Tingal Road. They purchased the old, very large, wooden building and 11 acres of land, which extended down to the waters of Moreton Bay. The previous land, already purchased in the same year (1953) near Wynnum West School, was sold.

On April 19 1955, Fr Claude and five theological students arrived in Wynnum and began to clean up and renovate the old house. This was a rather large undertaking, and the Blessed Sacrament took place on June 8, 1955. In August, the verandahs were closed in, and on September 1, a water closet was installed, to the joy of all of the friars.

In 1957 the old house was pulled down. A new two-storey brick friary was built and blessed on April 27, 1958, named St Laurence Friary. In 1970, this Friary became the Novitiate (a place for housing religious novices) of the Order and Friar Carmel Flora moved in with 10 Novices.

Thirty years later, in 2000, the Novitiate was moved to Sydney. The Friary and land at Wynnum North were for sale in 2002 for residential development. In June 2005, the Wynnum Herald advertised half-acre lots in a new development, “Moreton Bay Outlook”. The plan showed 16 large parcels of land leading off Wynnum North Road, serviced by Brindisi Place and Alverna Close.

Brindisi is a reminder of the birthplace, in Italy, of Julius Caesar Russo (1559 – 1619). He was renamed Friar Laurence when he entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order in 1574 at the age of 16. Friar Laurence rose to become the Minister General of the Capuchins in 1602.

Alverna (meaning wise man) is the Latin form of ‘La Verna’, a location in central Italy where there is a Franciscan Sanctuary built to the memory of Friar Laurence of Brindisi.

The Capuchin novices had left Wynnum to go to Pittsburg, USA, for their year of Novitiate and then later were to complete their theological studies in Melbourne.

In 2004 the Capuchins in Wynnum purchased the house at 92 Walnut Street and renovated it to become ‘Our Lady of the Angels’ Friary. They took the bell with them to the new Friary.

The bell was Wynnum’s first fire bell, purchased from A. Sargeant, Brisbane, for £36 in April 1922 and hung at the original fire station in Mountjoy Terrace, Wynnum. When a fire broke out, the ringing of the bell called the volunteer firefighters to duty.

As the area of the district increased in size, the ringing of the bell to summon the firefighters was not efficient. The telephone was now used. The bell was sold to Guardian Angels Church for £20 in 1953.

Guardian Angels Church owned two bells, so in 1970, the fire station bell was moved to the Capuchin Friary in Wynnum North Road and used to summon the friars at meal times.

In 2009 the bell was gifted to the Wynnum Manly Historical Society. After a complete refurbishment, the bell was handed back to the Wynnum Fire Service Station and now hangs at the front of the new fire station at No.2006, Wynnum Road, opposite Wynnum Plaza.

By 2014 the Friary in Walnut Street had closed.

Wynnum Manly Historical Society Inc. meets on the third Thursday of every month (excluding December and January) at the Wynnum Ambulance Auditorium (corner Tingal Road and Cedar Street; enter via Cedar Street), at 7:00 pm for 7:15 pm start.

Come along to hear interesting speakers, plus raffle and lucky door prizes and refreshments. Attendees are kindly asked for a gold coin donation, and everyone is welcome.

You may be interested in