NANANGO’S “Little Cathedral in the Bush” is getting spruced up for its 100th birthday with a helping hand from the community.
The Heritage Nanango Community Funding program – anchored on the work of the local Heritage Bank – has donated $18,500 to paint the interior of Our Lady Help of Christians Church.
That followed a grant of $42,000 from the same Heritage program in 2014 to improve the exterior of the church. These “little cathedrals” take some effort in the upkeep.
The church was one of the many built during the productive reign of Archbishop James Duhig, who handed over £25 from his own wallet to help reach the £3500 bill for the original construction.
Archbishop Duhig visited Nanango in September 1917 to bless the foundation stone, delivering a speech that gained the attention of journalists during the upheaval of the Great War.
The Brisbane Courier reported on the archbishop’s response to a column from the Anglican Diocese of Rockhampton’s Church Gazette that claimed “the Catholics were not so anxious to win the war as were the people of other religions”.
That was clearly wrong, the archbishop told a crowd that furiously agreed with his view that “the majority of those fighting in the cause of the Allies were Roman Catholics and … if they were to withdraw from the war tomorrow the cause of the Allies would be ruined”.
The Nanango Catholic community is looking forward to a calmer celebration next year to mark the centenary of one of the grandest regional churches in Brisbane archdiocese.
On a perfect winter’s day earlier this month, Fr Nigel Sequeira thanked Heritage branch manager Bob Shaw and Heritage Nanango Community Funding directors Wendy Zerbst and Wayne Scott for their support.
“This is a community that has more than double the number of residents on low incomes or on Newstart allowance than compared to Brisbane,” Fr Sequeira said.
“So, these community grants are really important to ensure that we can do the work to maintain a church that has meant so much to this community for almost 100 years.
“We’re really grateful to have a bank that works for the community in this way.”
Parishioner Liz Caffery is helping to co-ordinate the centenary celebrations across one weekend in September 2017.
“We’re fortunate because the hundredth anniversary falls on a Saturday so it would be wonderful to re-enact that ceremony,” Ms Caffery said.
“We’re looking forward to seeing as many people as possible, including former parishioners, back at Nanango for the celebrations.”
By Michael Crutcher