Happy 175th birthday to St Michael’s, Wollombi!

“I count it a privilege to celebrate with you…in Australia, a 175th birthday is a big deal!”

Bishop Bill Wright was speaking at the 175th Anniversary Mass at the Church of St Michael the Archangel, Wollombi on 26 September. Bishop Bill was joined by parish priest Fr Tony Potts and Fr John McEnearney. Fr Graham Jackson and members of the Anglican community also participated in the liturgy.

Bishop Bill spoke of the importance of establishing a place of worship in those very early days. “It’s a moving thing that a little group came together to build their church… People sensed their community was incomplete until they had a place to worship.”

While the stone church, and the town, are small, there is a vibrant sense of community and the celebration was the result of months of planning. The Church of St Michael belongs to the people in a way few churches do, and there is a quiet determination that it remains a very real part of the hamlet that is Wollombi.

Local Gael Winnick is dedicated to preserving the story and in fact a film is being made by Ken Martin to tell the unique story of St Michael’s. To learn more, please visit www.mn.catholic.org.au/news-events/aurora/150/celebrating-a-unique-community

The Mass was followed by a lavish community lunch and an opportunity to share stories and plan for the future of St Michael’s.

The qualities that Bishop Bill named as characteristic of the early settlers – enterprise, faith, persistence and sheer courage – apply equally to the members of the current St Michael’s community.

In conclusion, Bishop Bill prayed, “Enable us to be worthy of the people who went before us, 175 years since.”

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Tracey Edstein Image
Tracey Edstein

Tracey Edstein is the former editor of Aurora Magazine, the official magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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