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Milestone for church on the hill

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Past and present parishioners gathered for the 150th anniversary of the consecration of St Stephen’s Catholic Church in Saddleworth on January 19.

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Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ, Monsignor John Swann, and Father Chris Jenkins, concelebrated the Mass which was attended by 150 people.

Geoff Brock MP and mayor Wayne Thomas spoke about the church’s history after Mass and Bishop O’Kelly blessed gravesites.

Local and interstate people came who had a connection with the church and the cemetery.  Father Kevin Hay was parish priest 50 years ago – his brother Paul, sister Rosemary and sister in law Joan were present at the celebration.

The blessing and dedication of the church was conducted by the then Vicar General Reverend J Smyth on January 16 1870.

The parish was served by the Jesuits from 1869 to 1890 and priests of the Adelaide Archdiocese until 2000. Since then the Sevenhill Jesuits have served the parish and continue to do so now for which the parish community is very grateful.

The church underwent extensive renovations and repairs in 1966. The exterior was resealed and the interior replastered and painted. The beautiful original altar was removed and the base brought forward enabling the priest to celebrate Mass facing the congregation in accordance with the new Church law of Vatican II.

Further repairs to the church were completed in 2001, with the tower stonework repointed.  Funds were received through the assistance of a heritage grant and parish fundraising from the St Patrick’s Day dinner along with contributions from other denomination communities in the area.

Situated atop a hill, St Stephen’s has been illuminated during the Easter and Christmas periods, the ‘light of our faith’ shinning for all to see and appreciate as they pass through the town.

 

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