SINCE 1869, Maryborough families have flocked to the steps of St Mary’s Church to receive the sacraments, forging a Catholic heritage commemorated at a 150-year anniversary event on July 26.
Parish priest Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament Father George Joseph, Bishop Brian Finnigan, Fr Adrian Farrelly, Fr David Pascoe and Fr Pat Dowd were present for a liturgical blessing of a ceremonial plaque for the 150th anniversary of the church’s foundation stone.
Parish co-ordinator Frank Burkett said there was great excitement among the community leading up to the event.
“For communities like ours, regional communities, it really is important to celebrate events like this,” Mr Burkett said.
“It’s just critical to show the outside world, particularly now, Catholicism in places like Maryborough is very, very strong.
“It’s been strong for 150 years, it’s still strong, and it will be strong here 150 years from now.”
Part of the festivities included St Mary’s Primary School and St Mary’s College students placing a time capsule into the altar. The capsule will be opened again in 2069.
About 300 people attended the liturgy and another 100 stayed for a parish dinner.
A ‘deeply loyal’ parish
Mr Burkett said the parish was deeply loyal to its faith.
He said there were many families that had a lot of history and loyalty to the Church and to the parish.
“Families go back generations,” he said. “If you talk to some of the Catholic families here … their fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers have been in this city … that’s a strength of ours.”
But it wasn’t just about ancestry, Mr Burkett said, it was the future generations too.
He said while planning the anniversary events, students from the parish schools came along to say they could help get the parish hall ready.
“That’s our future, the young people,” Mr Burkett said.
“The culture’s very strong in the schools.”
St Mary’s is a heritage-listed site and Mr Burkett said people could still see the original doors of the church.
But since 1869 the church has undergone restoration and a change of direction – literally.
Mr Burkett said the original church faced the Mary River, where the immigrant ships used to sail up, and the immigrants would walk right into the church.
Over the centuries, the river was used less and the highway became the front door of town, and the church was reoriented to face towards the main part of the city.
No matter its direction, St Mary’s remains at the heart of the parish, and Mr Burkett said it meant a lot to the parishioners to have the 150-year celebration.