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Hailstones batter Rosewood church but patron saint’s stained-glass panel remains untouched

Smashed windows: Franciscan Father Stephen Bliss stands in front of shattered windows, glass thrown everywhere, after heavy hailstorms in Rosewood last Saturday.

HAILSTONES shattered dozens of windows on the western-face of heritage-listed St Brigid’s Church, Rosewood, as storm cells surged across south-east Queensland last weekend.

Franciscan Father Stephen Bliss arrived at the church after the first storm struck on Saturday afternoon to find about 40 windows damaged.

That’s when the second storm hit.

He said the second storm shook and rattled the church but “the stained-glass window of St Brigid remained”.

“She must be watching over it,” he said.

All afternoon, once the storm passed, Catholics and non-Catholics poured into the church to help clean up the glass and fasten tarpaulins over the windows.

Fr Bliss said people were proud of St Brigid’s as it held the title of the oldest wooden-structure church in the southern hemisphere.

“We’re committed to restoration, but this is just a major setback, because it’s not only the windows but the new roof that was put on two years ago had fairly extensive damage,” he said.

Fr Bliss said the Saturday storms were devastating for the wider Rosewood community too.

He said the media had mostly focused on the damage done to the new housing at Springfield but most of the old houses of Rosewood had been damaged in some way too.

He said about 40 to 60 parishioners had been affected.

In Springfield, parish priest Fr Mauro Conte said many parishioners had been badly affected.

Most of the destruction was to the roofing as well as widespread loss of electricity.

The church and presbytery had damage to the solar panels, Fr Conte said.

His car was also damaged.

He said the community had responded with “lots of support”.

Through parish WhatsApp groups, people were able to keep in touch, organise help and borrow each other’s appliances like freezers for keeping food fresh.

At Boronia Heights, the Sisters of St Paul de Chartres were spared from any damage, despite heavy falls around the area.

Many homes across south-east Queensland were deemed “unliveable”.

The Insurance Council of Australia reported more than 8500 claims had been lodged, with estimated insurance losses exceeding $110 million.

If you want to help the restoration of St Brigid’s Church, Rosewood, contact the Ipswich Catholic Community parish office.

Catholic Church Insurance

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