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Hard Work Pays Off At Centenary

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Historian Liz Caffery taking a short break between items on Saturday's program of events

September 24, 2017

Nanango author Liz Caffery should be a breathing a sigh of relief following the successful conclusion of the Our Lady Help of Christians’ Centenary celebrations on Sunday.

The big weekend for the Nanango Catholic parish marked the exact 100th anniversary of the laying of the Foundation stone for the large, brick church in Gipps Street, Nanango.

There was a committee organising the two-day event, but no one could argue that Liz wasn’t the driving force behind much that occurred, especially the creation of a history of “The Little Cathedral In The Bush”.

Heritage Nanango Community Funding also came to rescue, providing financial assistance on top of local fund-raising to paint the exterior and interior of the church to make it spic and span for the Centenary.

A special guest for the celebrations was Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, who blessed a “Centenary stone” and presided at a Centenary Mass on Sunday morning.

Former and current Nanango parishioners, former Parish priests, and invited guests gathered at the church on Saturday afternoon for the beginning of the celebrations.

A concert by the South Burnett Chorale started proceedings which was followed by a “wedding album” video presentation of photographs from weddings held in the church from 1918 to 2017.

Liz said about 130 or 140 photographs had been gathered together from the estimated 500 weddings held in the church over the years.

The very first wedding was between Albert Anderson and Gertie Bright in 1918.

After the wedding show, guests adjourned to the church hall to enjoy afternoon tea, chatted under marquees, or browsed memorabilia and souvenirs in the St Patrick’s School Hall.

Then it was back to the church for a short liturgy and the official blessing of the Centenary stone by Archbishop Coleridge.

In the evening, events continued in St Patrick’s Hall in the lead-up to the official launch by the Archbishop of “The Little Cathedral In The Bush” history book.

A brief history of the parish was presented by speakers as well as photos from across the years.

The first church in Nanango was St George’s, which opened in 1870. This was replaced in 1899 by another St George’s when the congregation outgrew the first building.

The decision to build the magnificent, brick building “Our Lady Help of Christians” occurred after the sudden illness and death of much-loved Parish Priest Fr James Bergin in May 1914.

Parishioners decided a new church should be built in his memory.

The Foundation stone to the “Father Bergin Memorial Church” was laid on September 23, 1917. It was due to be laid in the morning but due to “heavy incessant rain” it was delayed to the afternoon.

Amazingly (this all occurred during the Great War), the church was free of debt when it opened on May 26, 1918, with a solemn High Mass which included “Ave Maria” played on violin.

This last item was repeated on Saturday afternoon, with violinist Caroline Dingle playing Mascagni’s “Ave Maria”, and opera singer Calista¬†Verschaeren (nee Walters) singing Schubert’s “Ave Maria”.

The afternoon also included excerpts from “Little Cathedral In The Bush”, a tribute to past priests, 1970s folk music and a special song composed for the occasion (see video below).

As the evening wound down, Liz Caffery’s efforts were acknowledged by Parish Priest Fr Stephen Camiolo with not one, but two, bunches of flowers.

On Sunday, parishioners gathered together again for the Centenary Mass with Archbishop Coleridge.

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Archbishop Mark Coleridge with South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell and Kingaroy / Nanango Parish Priest Fr Stephen Camiolo

The Centenary program kicked off on Saturday afternoon with a free concert by the South Burnett Chorale in the Our Lady Help of Christians church

Sr Esther Dowling, who was the last Sister of Mercy at Nanango, with organist Helen Cronin who accompanied the presentation of wedding photographs on the overhead screen ... Sr Esther was at Nanango during 1973-74 and 1981-83

Member for Nanango and Deputy Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington, former Kingaroy / Nanango Parish Priest Fr Nigel Sequeira and Mayor Keith Campbell

Tim Dwyer, from Kingaroy, recalled that he went to school at St Patrick's and was an altar boy at Our Lady Help of Christians in 1946-47

Daniel Delbridge, Brisbane, with Grady, 1; René, 10; and Preston, 3 ... Daniel and his wife Chantel (nee Erkens) were married at OLHC in 2013

Carmel Iivonen, from Cairns, with her mother and former Yarraman parishioner Margaret McNae, now at Ipswich

Nanango parishioners Cathy Scott, Christine Kapernick, Patricia Zimmerman, Sandra Harris and Kay Gayton were kept busy in the canteen ... especially handing out cold drinks and water

Jessica and Sharon McNamara, from Nanango, and St Patrick's Primary School principal Matthew Vine were selling the souvenir calendars, books, fridge magnets and USB sticks of the wedding photos

An amazing cake by Lyn Mangan that captured Our Lady Help of Christians in marzipan

Kate Williams, Kingaroy, was reliving memories of her time working at St Patrick's school

Moya and Lawrie Hayden were among many Kingaroy parishioners at the celebration

Kathy Brown, from Laidley, who went to school at St Patrick's, with her parents Claire and Kevin Schultz, from Kingaroy

Archbishop Coleridge blesses the new Centenary Stone which mirrors the original Foundation Stone on the other side of the church building

Deborah Walters, Nanango, with her daughter Calista Verschaeren, Toowoomba, and Fr Nigel Sequeira

Archbishop Coleridge with long-time Nanango parishioner Cathy Scott who organised the plaque for the Centenary

The Blackbutt Singers opened the Book Launch evening with a rendition of "The Lord's Prayer"

Year 1 St Patrick's student Hannah Ricketts, 6, with her father Paul ... Hannah read a poem "Everyone Loves Fr Bill"

Des McCallum recited Banjo Patterson's "Bush Christening" with a small amendment: "On the Barkers Creek Flat ..."

Caroline Dingle, from the South Burnett Community Orchestra, played Mascagni's "Ave Maria" as a violin solo ... Ave Maria was played on violin at the church's official opening

Archbishop Coleridge officially launched "The Little Cathedral In The Bush" book, written and put together by Elizabeth Caffery over the past two years

Yarraman parishioner Laurelle Ward had her hand-made rosary beads for sale in the souvenir area ... Laurelle is a familiar sight around the Kingaroy / Nanango parish with her beads which are made from Coix lacryma-jobi, ie. Job's Tears (adlay or Chinese pearl barley)

The Nanango Catholic Church looked a picture on Saturday ... freshly painted inside and out thanks to assistance from Heritage Nanango Community Funding

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The Little Cathedral In The Bush


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