A Glimpse of Our Past – Centennial of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church
St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church celebrated its centenary.
The church was founded on November 18, 1921. Corowa had a Catholic community that worked hard to realize the vision of a beautiful church.
The original church was built on the same site in 1875, however, as the number of Catholics increased in the area, there was a need for a larger place of worship.
According to the Free Press articles of the time, the work of the church proceeded “without interruption and without a hitch of any kind, until the official inauguration”. This was no small task, when you remember that the labor market was unstable and it was difficult to recruit skilled craftsmen; building materials and supplies were difficult and sometimes almost impossible to obtain; and the general effect of the consequences of the war was felt at every turn.
The church is in Romanesque style – a style widely used in early Christian churches and adapted to modern materials and requirements.
The exterior of the building has a “beautiful window with interlacing surmounted by a canopy niche containing a magnificent statue of the Sacred Heart in white Carrara marble”.
A week before its opening, the Corowa Free Press wrote: “Next Sunday will see the completion of one of the most important undertakings ever attempted in the district – the conclusion of the erection and the opening of the magnificent new building in the district. Catholic church in Corowa. ”
Prior to the first Sunday Mass led by Father Hickey, the building was blessed by the Bishop of Wagga Wagga Joseph Dwyer.
The opening ceremony took place on Sunday, November 20 with “a vast competition of adherents and visitors from remote regions of the two states, who came to honor those responsible for the erection of such a magnificent building and also to welcome His Grace the Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr. Mannix, who was present by invitation ”.
The Archbishop was graciously received at Springhurst and Rutherglen before moving on to Corowa. A visit by an Archbishop to a small country town in New South Wales was unknown at the time, and even today it is still rare.
“As the procession passed through Wahgunyah, the flashing headlights of more than 30 cars looked like wisps and put on an imposing spectacle. Arrived at the bottom of Sanger Street, where a huge crowd awaited the coming of the party, a short halt was made, and a great welcome cheer rose from the assembly. The Border Brass Band sounded Irish and the procession walked up the street to the rectory ”.
There were five masses in total on Sunday morning with the church packed.
The triangular enclosure facing the church was the scene of a magnificent demonstration of welcome to
His Grace Dr. Mannix in the afternoon. “Automobiles were particularly numerous and took place on either side of the enclosure, in which people sat to watch the debates and listen to the speeches. Seats were also provided for hundreds. It is estimated that around four thousand people were on the ground. The Border Brass Band entertained the assembly… until the start of the ceremony ”.
If you enjoyed reading this article, there is much more to see regarding the history and development of Corowa and the district at the Federation Museum which is carefully preserved by the Corowa District Historical Society.
Opening hours: Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.