St Matthew’s Church in Pontville celebrates 150 years

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St Matthew’s Church in Pontville celebrates 150 years

The pews of St Matthew’s in Pontville were overflowing on Sunday, September 16 as the church celebrated its 150th anniversary.

Local parishioners and visitors crowded inside as Archbishop Julian led the Mass, while several priests, including current Bridgewater Brighton parish priest Fr Leo Zenarosa, concelebrated.

“From the depths of the heart, many prayers would have been expressed here in this church over the past 150 years,” His Grace said during the homily.

“In this building, people opened themselves to God and here mercy and grace have flowed.”

Designed by renowned Tasmanian architect Henry Hunter, and built using surplus stone left over from the construction of the Brighton gaol, the church’s foundation stone was laid in 1866.

The original church building was destroyed by fire in 1928, but was rebuilt.

Celebration organiser Pam Clark described the numbers of people who attended the anniversary Mass as “mind-boggling”.

“It’s been really lovely that so many people have shown up.”

Several attendees had had a long association with the parish.

Sr Frances McShane, a Missionary Sister of Service now living in Claremont, was baptised and grew up in the parish, as did her parents, grandparents and great grandparents.

“My family have lived here since the first church was built.  They were probably involved in the building of the first church,” Sr Frances said.

“They were convicts, ticket-of-leave men, but they came into the district in the 1830’s and they’ve been here ever since.  There have been members of the family who have certainly moved away – they are all over the world now – but there are some who have stayed and have kept the tradition of the farms going and the church going,” she said.

When she celebrated her silver and golden jubilees as a religious sister, both occasions were held at St Matthew’s Church.

Another person with a long-standing relationship to St Matthew’s was 90-year-old Peggy Creed who was recognised for her lifetime of parish service with a special certificate presented to her during the Mass.

For Mrs Creed, who began serving in the parish at the age of 15, the certificate recognising her contribution to the parish came as a complete surprise.

“I was absolutely astounded – it’s just wonderful. I didn’t know anything about it at all,” she said.