Intrepid pilgrims brave grim storm warning

By Wendy Shaw

A valiant band of Catholic Women’s League members and friends braved severe weather warnings to venture out to the picturesque Church of the Immaculate Conception in the Central Highlands village of Ouse.

The historic church, with a capacity of about 40, has been unused for a number of years.

It was designed by Henry Hunter and opened on 15 October, 1879.

CWL member Judy Gibbens, of Bagdad, explained that the pilgrimage followed previous expeditions to churches in the North East and Midlands, at the urging of Archbishop Julian.

The first outing took in the striking Catholic church at Mangana, near Fingal, and the second, two years later, was to the historic Ross church.

This year, a small advance party of members (and one husband) dusted, cleaned, polished and swept the Ouse church and even trimmed a plucky little wild rose growing nearby.

This was in readiness for the group of 23 members, friends and Catholic parishioners from Oatlands, Bagdad, New Norfolk, Hobart and the Huon who made the pilgrimage on 22 October.

It began with morning Mass at St Andrew’s Church, Bothwell, followed by a picnic lunch in leafy Bothwell Town Park, and then a scenic rural road trip to Ouse where the group held prayers for peace.

“What a delight,” Mrs Gibbens said.

“The feeling of peace, love, and togetherness was felt among the group as they sang the benediction hymns and prayed the Rosary.”

Mrs Gibbens added that the forecast storm did not daunt the faithful followers, who had earlier prayed for a break in the weather at mid-day.

“Prayers for farmers and pilgrims were both answered,” she said.

“The much-needed rain was delivered overnight, but the day was full of sunshine.”

Central Tasmania Parish Priest Fr Anthony Onyirioha, who celebrated Mass at Bothwell and joined the group for lunch and at Ouse.

He said the Church of the Immaculate Conception was beautiful and he praised the courage of the pilgrims, who defied the grim weather forecast.

“God was there for us and the weather was not as bad as we thought,” he said.

“It was a lovely, happy day. We had meals to share, people talked about experiences as Catholics and Christians and intentions as pilgrims on pilgrimage – things you offer to God on pilgrimage.”

“It was really good, enriching and fulfilling. I looked forward to it just as much as those who came.”

The CWL has branches at Launceston, George Town, Oatlands, Richmond and Hobart; and a CWL Craft Shop in Mather’s Lane, Hobart. New members are welcome.

For details, contact southern vice-president Pam Clark ( or state secretary Wendy Fittler (

Tags: Archbishop's Blog, Archdiocese