St Michael’s was the third Catholic church to be built in South Australia and the original building now forms part of St Joseph’s School.
Construction of the second and much larger St Michael’s started in 1873, to cater for the increasing Catholic population. However, building came to a standstill in 1876 due to lack of funds and because many of the early settlers were leaving Clare for the newly-released farming lands in the north.
Eventually completed in 1883, the church was officially blessed and opened by Bishop Christopher Reynolds of Adelaide.
During the anniversary celebrations, local parishioner Gerald Lally launched his history book, Two Churches – Catholic Faithful of the Clare Valley.
Besides outlining the history of the two St Michael’s churches, Mr Lally’s book includes the history of the Catholic faith in the area from the 1840s. It covers the arrival of the Jesuits, St Michael’s Cemetery, vocations, parish life and the centenary of the Jesuits.
In addition, a large section of the book is devoted to 40 of the early Catholic families of Clare, with lists of baptisms in St Michael’s (1843-1900) and marriages (1846-1949). There are also chapters on Armagh, Bumburnie/Blyth, Polish Hill River, Undalya/Auburn, including baptisms and marriages which occurred at these locations.
Copies of Two Churches – Catholic Faithful of the Clare Valley (hard cover $70, soft cover $50) can be purchased by contacting Gerald Lally on 0457 020 680.
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