KUMBIA might not have the lights of New York City or the fame of London, but the people there enjoy something far more important – a community of faithful who “love each other and like to spend time with each other”.
And in Kumbia they’ve been doing just that at Our Lady of Peace Church for a century.
Pastor Fr Chukwudi Chinaka said the recent centenary events over the weekend of May 18 and 19 were beautiful.
“A lot of people came back who used to be part of the community,” Fr Chinaka said.
“They came back home, and parishioners really put a lot of effort into it.
“It came together beautifully well; it was an amazing assurance of faith, friendship and fun as well.”
On the Sunday, a centenary Mass was held outdoors because the church couldn’t fit the 300-plus people who attended.
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge celebrated the Mass and later posted a heartfelt message on social media, alongside a picture of himself with the clergy on the church threshold.
“These small rural communities really are jewels in our crown, with a down-to-earth sense of community you find nowhere else,” Archbishop Coleridge said on Facebook.
“The faith has really mattered in Kumbia and it still does,” he said.
“The young pastor is Fr Chukwudi Chinaka, from Nigeria, and he was in his element.
“A good priest is a good priest anywhere.”
Interestingly, the church’s name hinted at its history.
“My predecessor James Duhig was there 100 years ago to bless the church of Our Lady of Peace, built and blessed in the wake of the Great War,” Archbishop Coleridge said on Facebook.
“The altar, the statue of the Sacred Heart and the silver chalice were donated by the families of three young Kumbian men who were killed in France and who have no known grave,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“Mysteriously they were with us on the day.”
Fr Chinaka said the church was built as a place of hope, and named Our Lady of Peace because the world needed peace.
The simplicity of these Christian values seemed to come easily to Kumbia.
“Look, Kumbia people, they are a tight-knit sort of community where they have that sense of they love each other and like to spend time with each other,” Fr Chinaka said.
“That’s what I’ve really enjoyed about being their pastor.
“Whenever I go out to celebrate a Mass there, it’s just lovely how they just want to be there with each other and pray together.
“And I guess it links to this history because obviously the church was built as a place of hope at a time of war and at a time where people felt hopeless.
“So it was kind of like a place they could come to find that peace – and they hope their future would be better.”
Fr Chinaka said he admired this community spirit and was praying for another 100 years of peace and hope.
“The good thing about the community is there are a few young people who actually go there,” he said.
“I’m hoping that they carry on this thing that’s been handed on to them, this lovely history – that’s my prayer obviously – that this history that we celebrated last weekend will make the next hundred years bigger and better.
“I’m hoping that the young people will carry it on.”