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Centenary celebrations at Tailem Bend


Eight priests joined Archbishop Patrick O’Regan and Deacon Arturo Jimena in celebrating the centenary Mass for St Columbkille’s Church on February 18.

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In 1922 the parish priest of Murray Bridge, Fr O’Connell, recommended erecting a church at Tailem Bend and land was purchased in 1923. The church was built for $2200 and on February 24 1924 the foundation stone was laid and blessed by Mgr P Hurley.

It was reported in the Chronicle, March 1924 that: ‘The front will be of Murray Bridge freestone, and the side walls of local stone. It will be of a very pretty design, and will be a welcome addition to the architecture of the town.’

In 1940 Fr O’Connell recommended the purchase of land at Tailem Bend suitable for a convent and school. The Sisters taught students in a classroom in the church from 1941 to 1981. They returned to Tailem Bend in 1990 and purchased the home they use today as a base for parish work and to visit families.

As well as being great educators, the Sisters offered support to the community through sacramental programs as well as pastoral care for the sick and bereaved.

“There are many beautiful memories over the years of the Sisters of St Joseph showing dedication, compassion and fun to the parishioners and community,” said Deacon Arturo who is pastoral director at Tailem Bend.

A dozen Sisters of St Joseph and past and present parishioners packed the church for the centenary celebrations.

Former parish priest Fr Michael Brennan shared his memories of his time at Tailem Bend in the 80s, including parishioners rallying to repair the salt-damaged school/parish building.

Tailem Bend church.

At the time, St Columbkille was linked to Karoonda and Meningie with a strong lay involvement and direction.

“The annual parish picnic was a highly regarded affair,” Fr Brennan said.

“The picnic moved from one centre to the next over a three-year cycle.

“One of the challenging features of the event was that, as the picnic went from one church to another, very few people from the other two churches would participate.

“One example of St Columbkille’s ‘Thinking Big’ is demonstrated in a novel suggestion from one of the St Columbkille’s parishioners.

“At the Pastoral Council, he suggested that we have become locked in on thinking only about the three points of the triangle.

“He asked ‘what if we were to come together at the centre?’ The centre was roughly at Ki Ki, just south-east of Yumali, 40km from each Mass centre. He offered their family farm!”

Fr Brennan said “generosity of spirit won the day”.

“Families celebrated well into the night. Big, encompassing thinking won the day.

“Perhaps some ‘matchmaking’ was furthered.”

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