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Window into past and future


There’s often more to church windows than meets the eye. A window not only provides a view to the outside world, it also has the potential to capture a moment in time and tell stories of faith as it spills light across devoted parishioners’ faces.

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When some members of Kapunda’s St Rose of Lima Catholic Church noticed the deterioration of windows at the historic building, they decided to act.

The restoration project, spearheaded by John Hayes, engaged leadlight specialists Adelaide Glass Painters and Peter Costello Building.

After the windows were assessed, 12 were identified as needing more urgent repairs. Two of the highest priority windows were repaired and restored in July 2023. Now, the unique leadlight depicting St John the Evangelist is being restored with haste to its former glory.

“If we didn’t look after that window and the glass fell out, it’s irreplaceable,” John said.

“It’s as fragile as time itself. As we have fewer parishioners, and less funds, we’ve had to push for it.”

John has an interest in history and heritage, so he’s helping to get the project off the ground. A fundraising campaign has now begun in earnest.

“I was pleased to hear that we have been promised the maximum of $2000 from the council as a heritage grant,” John said.

“However, it’s only enough to cover a portion of the costs for such specialised work.”

The current St Rose of Lima Catholic Church was opened in 1938 to serve the previous St Rose’s parish. More than
45 unique windows form part of its architecture, including an elaborate leadlight rose at the front of the church.

The leadlight window depicting St John the Evangelist.

The leadlight window depicting St John the Evangelist.

Throughout its history, several windows were incorporated from the earlier churches of the area. These include the region’s first Catholic Church dating back to the 1850s (St John’s, located at a small settlement 5km from Kapunda), and the original St Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Kapunda which opened a decade or so later.

“Fr Thomas Joseph Maloney PP (1932-56) had an appreciation for the work done by pioneers to establish this parish and incorporated features such as windows from the previous churches into the current church. This was an acknowledgement of benevolent parishioners and of our district’s history,” John said.

“His work needs to be carried on for future generations to appreciate.”

St Rose’s is an impressive Romanesque-style church which can seat around 400 people, reflecting the needs of the community at the time.

John said it was a great achievement to fund and construct a building of this size, considering it was done between the Great Depression and World War II.

The large size of this building is now a costly challenge for parishioners to maintain.

“We need to preserve this beautiful church, take care of the legacy of the pioneers, and use it for the glory of God,” John said.

The response to the callout for help has been heartening. Donations have come from parishioners, the local community, as well as visitors from the city, interstate and even overseas (a family visiting from Singapore gave a generous donation when they heard about the window fundraising campaign).

The restorations are timely. This year marks 175 years of Catholic faith in the Kapunda area and a program of celebratory events includes a St Patrick’s Day outdoor Mass and Picnic at the Pines on March 17. A Mass with Archbishop Patrick O’Regan and lunch at the Kapunda Bowls Club will be held on April 14.

It will be a chance to appreciate the newly restored St John’s leadlight.

“The locals who know about this window hold it precious to our faith and heritage. We hope to get a special blessing for it,” John said.

The window is also a link to parish patron St Mary of the Cross MacKillop who has many connections to the area. It was donated to St Mary, along with another Fleur-de-lis window, when she set up a girl’s reformatory in the district in the 1890s.

“She would have prayed in front of these windows when they were in the St John’s church…that’s special.”

For more information about the St Rose Window Restoration Project and Fund, contact John Hayes on 0488 245 990 or Tarnya Cruickshank on 0439 334 886.

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