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St Patrick’s centenary gives community crushed by drought something to smile about

St Patrick’s big day: Our Lady of the Valley parishioners with Archbishop Mark Coleridge and parish priest Fr Noyichan Mamoottil out the front of St Patrick’s Church after the church’s centenary Mass. Photos: Alan Edgecomb

THE Holy Spirit was with us, Our Lady of the Valley Gatton Laidley parishioner Jan Maltry said reflecting on the centenary of St Patrick’s Church, Laidley, on October 26. 

Mrs Maltry sponsored her granddaughter Hannah, who was confirmed by Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge at St Mary’s Church, Gatton, on the Friday before the centenary.

She watched on proudly as Hannah received First Holy Communion at the centenary on the Sunday. 

It was a wildly exciting weekend, Mrs Maltry said with a laugh.

For a community wracked by drought, with pressure to sell off animals and close down family farms, it was also a chance to just enjoy a break.

“We are always praying for rain up here,” Mrs Maltry said.

“It’s just been one of those times and I think because it’s been such a hard time for everybody, it’s what everybody was needing because they all got a boost.

“They knew when they got home there still wasn’t going to have been any rain on the farms to fill the dam, but they had a chance to get away from it for a little while and just think of something else, which is important in life.”

Mrs Maltry said almost everybody was on a farm of one description or another.

“It’s good when you’ve got something (to celebrate) and we’ve had a marvellous year of celebrating with all of the St Patrick’s hundred years,” she said.

“And having a little bit of that Christian joy coming around – because we keep trying to think about being joyful – well, sometimes it’s a bit hard to see.

“We don’t seem to have a lot of joy on our faces at times and I think it’s lovely to see smiles and happiness, and this is what it should be like all the time.”

Centenary smiles: Joy Orrin (holding the St Patrick’s centenary cookbook), Tony FitzGerald, Bernadette FitzGerald, Fr Mamoottil, Mary Heenan and Mike Nowlan.

Parishioner Stephanie Matthews co-ordinated the publication of the centenary recipe book, which was a collection of family recipes “straight out of people’s homes”.

She said it was a collection of well over 200 recipes.

“It’s all family recipes, every recipe in the book has come from families and (they are all) family favourites,” she said.

“(The recipe book) has got a lot of very old recipes, it’s who we were then, and it’s who we are now.

“These are the recipes people make every day.

“People in this community are farmers, are workers, (and) when they cook every day it’s good wholesome meals using what they’ve grown themselves.

“But also when they celebrate, they are the most amazing cooks.”

Mrs Maltry said the centenary showed the common Gatton Laidley parish spirit, which was still under construction with the Our Lady of the Valley parish amalgamation announced in 2016.

“This was really probably the first big celebration – the centenary – everybody was in there and helping,” she said. 

“Just being part of it, that’s a big thing when you’ve got a group of parishes coming together to get them to settle in with each other. 

“It’s always nice when you can see it’s working and it’s all come together.”

Mass: Archbishop Coleridge and Fr Mamoottil celebrating the Mass in St Patrick’s

Mrs Maltry said parish priest Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament Father Noyichan Mamoottil was fantastic.

“He’s pretty popular,” she said.

Fr Mamoottil said the centenary was incredible.

He said there was a “big turn-up” with about 400 people flocking to the church.

“It was a very joyful event,” he said.

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