Parishioners give thanks at sesquicentenary of ‘hallowed sanctuary’

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Parishioners give thanks at sesquicentenary of ‘hallowed sanctuary’

Parishioners gathered to reminisce and give thanks at the sesquicentenary of St Augustine’s Catholic Church at Longford in November.

Almost 100 people packed the church on November 12 to hear Archbishop Julian celebrate Mass as part of a week of celebrations, which also included a reunion day and Mass for past priests, nuns and parishioners on November 6, and a display of memorabilia from November 8 to 10.

Archbishop Julian revealed how the church came to be blessed and opened on November 7, 1867.

“If you are curious about the patron of this parish, it is worth noting the full name of the first parish priest: Fr John Augustine Butler. This Irishman left his mark on this parish – I must see if there is ever a chance to have a parish in Tasmania under the patronage of St Julian!”

Administrator Fr Des Holm said the sesquicentenary was a chance to reflect and give thanks on what was an occasion of great joy, while Launceston parish priest Fr Mark Freeman revealed that his great grandparents, Mary Louisa Forsyth and William Lucas Williams, were married at the church.

Parishioner Tricia Walker described St Augustine’s as a ‘hallowed sanctuary’.

“It is architecturally beautiful with its large cross dominating the altar,” she said.

Dr Tony McCormack, 73, of Youngtown, served as an altar boy in the 1950s.

“It is nice that St Augustine’s is still open when other churches have closed,” he said.

The interior of the church was freshly painted for the anniversary but efforts to get the bell ringing for the first time in 20 years were unsuccessful. Workers in a cherry picker tried for a day to restore the bell, even resorting to a blow torch to get some grease into the mechanism.

However, the bell would not budge.

“It is rusted up and would have needed a crane to take it down,” one of the organisers, Barb Baker, said.

She said the celebrations had gone well.

“It is a lovely church and the sesquicentenary was just great.”

Journalist Linus Grant, of Longford, compiled a commemorative booklet on the sesquicentenary of St Augustine’s, which is for sale for $7.50. To order a copy, contact Barb Baker on 0408 911 491 or barbaker@bigpond.com.

Photo: Fr Des Holm (left) and Fr Mark Freeman, and parishioners past and present outside St Augustine's Church, Longford, at the start of a week of celebrations.