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Faith unites and strengthens Our Lady of the Valley parish at joyful Christmas Celebration

Good times: Members of Filipino community of the Our Lady of the Valley Parish at the parish’s Christmas celebrations.

RIVALRIES between Gatton and Laidley were laid to rest in 2016 when the Catholic faith communities amalgamated, becoming Our Lady of the Valley Parish. 

The sporting rivalries continue, but everyone was a winner on November 23 when parishioners, family and friends of the Gatton Laidley parish gathered at the Laidley Cultural Centre to celebrate the spiritual strength of our community and the joy of Christmas. 

Almost 200 guests arrived to the beautiful singing of Toowoomba soloist Courtney Feldman as they enjoyed pre-dinner drinks and an appetising array of canapés. 

The cleverly designed photo booth captured the fun mood of guests as they mingled with Lockyer Valley mayor Tanya Milligan, parish priest Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament Father Noyichan Mamoottil, visiting priest Fr Bavin Clarke and past parishioners who had travelled from far and wide for the occasion.

When the doors to the auditorium opened just before 7pm, guests were surprised by the transformation of the bare room into a magnificent candlelit setting complete with a large-scale nativity scene and a vast array of prizes on display. 

“Truly amazing,” guests said as they found their seats and were draped with crisp white napkins ready for service of the delicious main course and dessert. 

Emcee Donna Lynch, from Breeze FM, was a fun and engaging host, relating to many of the guests with her Catholic background and her love of rugby league. 

Her media background came to the fore as she interviewed panellists Helen McGuirk, Gary Flanagan and John Gallagher for the “Remarkable Moments” segment. 

Stories from the past included fond memories of rugby league-loving priest Fr Jim Cahill, and his involvement in the Gatton Hawks Rugby League Club and the establishment of Cahill Park. 

Gary Flanagan recalled “Laidley priest Fr John Gleeson had a love of racehorses and there were many occasions when parishioners would be left waiting for over half an hour for Mass to start because he was at the track watching a horse do a time trial”. 

“That is true, but no one ever left the church. We were all happy to wait,” Ms McGuirk said. 

“St Patrick’s Church in Laidley celebrates its centenary in 2019, and hopefully people will recall many more stories to share throughout the celebrations next year.”

Planning team chair Derek Pingel said: “We are very thankful for the generous support of the local business community who have donated prizes, and also to the many parishioners who gave prizes or volunteered their time to make this a spectacular evening, and we look forward to everyone joining us once again to celebrate the centenary of St Patrick’s Laidley in 2019.”

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