‘Day of gratitude’ as Sheffield church celebrates centenary

Past and present parishioners of the Church of the Holy Cross at Sheffield will gather in November to celebrate a remarkable centenary of Catholic worship.

Archbishop Julian Porteous will be the main celebrant at the centenary Mass on Sunday 6 November, at 11.30am.

Mersey-Leven Parish Priest, Fr Jaison Kuzhiyil, said the parish is looking forward to marking the historic milestone.

“We hope and pray to celebrate this day of gratitude, remembering the faith and hard work of our past parishioners in establishing this beautiful church,” he said.

“We also remember with a grateful heart all people besides parishioners who helped us to realise this dream.”

Long-term Sheffield parishioner Christine Williams has researched the fascinating history of the church, which she said came about as a result of growing calls from the Kentish Catholic community from the 1880s for a place of worship.

“At the beginning of the 20th Century, Catholics met in the Roland Hall as the Catholic Church was the last of the major denominations to become established at Sheffield,” she said.

“As early as 1904 there were plans to build a church in the town and fundraising began, although little progress was made.

“Finally, in 1917 half an acre of land near the Sheffield Hotel was secured for 50 pounds with money raised from a Railton Catholic Sports Day.”

The Church of the Holy Cross at Sheffield was blessed and opened by Archbishop William Barry in November 1922. Photo: Christine Williams

Some 500 passengers caught a special train from Devonport for celebrations marking the laying of the foundation stone by Archbishop William Barry on 13 November, 1921.

The Romanesque design included 50,000 bricks from Wynyard, sand from Blythe near Burnie and cement from Denmark. The furniture was blackwood while stained glass windows representing the Passion of Christ came from Montgomery of Melbourne.

The consecration of the church took place a year after the laying of the foundation stone and was reportedly a grand occasion with 800 people present, including future Prime Minister, Joseph Lyons.

“Statues and the baptismal font remain in the church to this day,” Ms Williams added.

“The original Stations of the Cross have recently been replaced by 14 stations painted by local artists, Gillian Robnick and Alecia Swiderski.”

A barbecue lunch will follow Mass at Sheffield on 6 November.

It is part of a weekend of significant milestones in the Mersey-Leven Parish. Archbishop Julian will be the main celebrant when Our Lady of Lourdes Church at Devonport marks 50 years on 5 November with a Vigil Mass. A ‘bring a plate dinner’ will follow at the nearby church hall. 

For more information about the centenary celebrations contact the Mersey-Leven Parish on 6424 2783.

Tags: Mersey-Leven, News, Northern Deanery