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History in the making


Beautiful ornate vestments, copies of The Southern Cross dating back to the 1890s and a certificate signed by the first parish priest at Goodwood are just some of the treasures on display in the recently established Emmaus History and Archives Centre. 

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Located in the century-old church hall at Kingswood, the centre is home to a collection of memorabilia including religious items, photographs and documents that detail the rich history of Our Lady of Dolours, St Therese and Holy Cross church communities. Amalgamating in 2016 to form Emmaus, the centre also houses items that relate to the short history of the new parish.

Parishioners – Lyn von der Borch, Pat Syrus, Cathryn Hart and Christine Garnaut – form the Archives Group that has worked tirelessly over several years gathering items which will ensure the stories of the three church communities in the inner southern suburbs are not lost or forgotten.

Understanding and conserving the heritage of the Kingswood parish hall was a Parish Council focus in the lead up to celebrations of the building’s centenary in 2014. However, Lyn, Pat and Cathryn believed they should also be capturing the essence of what had made their parish tick for more than 100 years and that was the catalyst for forming a History group.

When Emmaus parish was formed, Christine joined the team and they started to identify and collect historical items from Colonel Light Gardens and Goodwood.

With the assistance of Christine, who is an adjunct associate professor in Planning and Architectural History at UniSA and has worked with archivists, the group set about documenting its aims and objectives. This helped to determine what items would be kept at the centre, what needed to be kept at the parish level and what needed to be sent to the Archdiocese’s Archives Office.

“We have items here that are sometimes called ‘ephemera’; they are not essential records for the parish to keep but are still very important as they help tell the stories of our communities and place,” Christine explained.

Over the years the women have managed to uncover some hidden ‘gems’ and have been delighted to receive unexpected donations from members of the community.

One such item is a ‘Certificate of Membership to the Arch-confraternity of the Holy Family’ signed in 1894 by Fr Aristide Gandolfi. Of considerable historical significance, the certificate has been conserved and is now with the Archdiocese’s Archives, but a copy is proudly on show at Kingswood.

One of the vestments and the certificate on display.

“It’s an interesting story how we received the certificate,” Lyn recalled.

“A man just came into the parish office one day and said he had found it in his father’s garage. It has Our Lady of Dolours on it and he wondered if the parish wanted it.

“Apparently the family were not Catholics but Methodists from McLaren Vale and he had no idea why his father had the certificate and why it was in his shed.

“It was a stroke of good fortune that he brought it here!”

Pat also recalled the excitement when they were cleaning out the sacristy last year and discovered some “lovely treasures” that belonged to the old church.

“We found a wooden tabernacle and little boxes with the holy oils. That was a wonderful find,” she said.

Another parishioner donated bound copies of The Southern Cross dating back to the 1890s and included in the display are several banners that were made by the late Jan Ruff.

A brochure providing information about the evolution of Emmaus and a brief history of its constituent parishes and schools is currently being developed and will be distributed to the parish community and parish schools.

The centre is open to interested groups upon request. For more information contact the Emmaus Administration Centre:


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