Our Parish

Parish established:

  • September 1871 (Formerly attended from Tenterfield).

History of Parish

The following excerpts and photos have been taken from “St Patrick’s Parish, Glen Innes – 1871-1996” book.

The First Church

In 1858 Samuel Regan, on behalf of the acting committee, called for a public meeting “of the inhabitants of Glen Innes and Contiguous Stations interested in the immediate erection of a Catholic Church”. This meeting was convened at the Beverley Arms Hotel, on Tuesday, 9th November at four (4) o’clock. A report of this meeting is recorded in the Armidale Express dated 20th November, 1858.

In 1864 Dean Lynch laid the foundation stone for the church. It was a stone building, a fitting monument to the workmanship of the artisans of those days as well as to the materials they used, for it stands today as solid as the day it was completed.

The bluestone was supplied by a loyal supporter of Mr Regan, one Mr Patrick Dumphy who secured it from the area now dedicated as a park and adjoining the residence (at that time) of Mr J Priest.

The construction of the Church was undertaken by John and Pat McGuaran, Irish born brothers who were stonemasons. They made their way north from Sydney and eventually settled in Tenterfield. Many of the early stone buildings in the New England were built by them including the first Tenterfield Catholic Church. The building still stands as a monument to their excellent craftsmanship.

It is not clear when the Church was completed, but it has been stated that it was actually built during the pastorate of Fr Matthew Keogan. He took charge of Tenterfield in 1866 and apparently attended Glen Innes from there after that date.

About 20 years later a wooden porch was added on the southern side but was later demolished to make way for the present church.

Father Kelly became the first resident priest in September, 1871 and it wasn’t long before he saw the need for a larger Church. Because of the absence of Bishop O’Mahony, who was overseas, he was prevented from proceeding, however he had a church bell made 1arge enough for Brisbane”. At the time of its casting it was the largest bell ever cast in the southern hemisphere and was poured at the New England Foundry at Uralla in 1876 by Henry Sheldon Goddard, an English engineer who established the foundry in 1872.

New Church Bell

The following report appears in the Freeman’s Journal (13th January 1877)

“On Sunday last, (says the Glen Innes Guardian) the contractor for the erection of the belfry for this instrument had his work sufficiently far advanced to enable the bell to be tolled on that day. As we told our readers before, the bell weighs a few pounds short of 8 cwts, is powerfully constructed and sweet toned, reflecting credit alike upon the manufacturer and those who were spirited enough to afford his talent employment.

Out of this piece of mechanism a national piece of pride can fairly be evinced because not only is the genius that constructed the instrument local, but a deal of the material from which it is manufactured was produced at Vegetable Creek, thus reducing this most excellent bell to almost local contrivance.

The belfry is rather low – it should be, at least, 40 feet in height. This fact, together with the smallness of the instrument’s tongue materially mitigated against the power of the sound when tolled on Sunday, but with the exception of these, no other objectionable point is perceptible. The deficiency as regards the weight of the tongue will be speedily remedied, and already the Committee has retained the services of a blacksmith to increase the weight by several pounds. The bell and the belfry will cost about £130 . It is certainly nice to think that, at a place so convenient to us as Uralla, we have a foundry competent to vie with the best institutions of this kind possessed by the Colony.”

glen church 1

THE PRESENT ST. PATRICK’S

The question of erecting a new edifice was kept steadily in view for many years and the ideal was at length consummated in 1908 when the Bishop of Armidale (Bishop O’Connor) laid the foundation stone of the present building.

(The following is an extract from the Catholic Press dated 30th July, 1908)

Ceremony by Bishop O’Connor: Foundation Stone Laid (19th July, 1908)

An onward step was made by the Catholic community in Glen Innes on July 19th, when his Lordship Bishop O’Connor laid and blessed the corner stone of the foundation of the new St Patrick’s Church. When the appeal to his people was made by His Lordship the Bishop to be up and doing in order to provide an edifice in keeping with the great, progressive strides made by the district there was a ready response, with the result that the beginning of a great undertaking came about on Sunday.

The New Building:

The foundations of the new building are of cement concrete, while the foundation walls from the concrete to the floor level will be of brick and cement. The dimensions of the main building are to be 72 feet by 35 feet while the sanctuary will cover 23 feet by 20 feet. The sacristy will be 16 feet by 15 feet. The roof will be of slate and turret, while the gallery will occupy the width of the church, the tower which is to be 9 feet square, will rear its head to a distance of 80 feet. The architects are Messrs Sheerin & Hennessy of Pitt Street, Sydney and the builder is Mr James Lonsdale, of Glen Innes.

At an early hour on Sunday morning the country parishioners were on route to town, and the steady flow of the town folk helped to fill the main building of the old church long before the celebration of the Pontifical High Mass by His Lordship Dr O’Connor. His Lordship was assisted by the Very Rev Dean Tobin, the Rev C Smiers acted as deacon and Rev J Foley as sub-deacon, the Rev J Clancy was master of ceremonies and Monsignor Corcoran and the Rev P Condon were in attendance. During the Mass the choir rendered special music under the direction of Miss Brigdale. At the Offertory Miss Cissie Coughlin sang “Ave Maria”. At the conclusion of the Mass His Lordship Dr O’Connor announced that as the Pontifical High Mass was a long ceremony, the formal sermon would be dispensed with. He referred to the good work the people were engaged in, and stated that the new church would take the place of the old house of worship wherein they had met for forty years. He said the new church would be the best in the diocese, and one of the most up-to-date in the state, and he had no doubt that every member of the parish would feel it his duty to wipe off the debt.

The Ceremony:

The gathering at the ceremony of the blessing of the foundation stone was very large and it was pleasing to note that representatives of other denominations gathered to assist in celebrating an important epoch in the history of the local Catholic Church. Among the visitors were Mr F Foster MHR, and Alderman Whyte, Abbott, Colditz, Bower, Josephson and Rodgers and Town Clerk Veness.

At 3 o’clock the procession headed by a number of St Joseph’s children left the old church and proceeded to the new site, where his Lordship performed the ceremony of laying and blessing the foundation stone of the new church. At the conclusion of the ceremony Mgr Corcoran made an interesting financial statement in regard to the undertaking. The cost of the church is to be £3,685 and toward that a sum of £1,900 was collected of which £900 was the bequest of the late Mr B Gallagher. Another benefactor was the late Mr Regan, who had dedicated the ground to the church, while the late James Lahey contributed sufficient money to free the old church from debt. Mgr Corcoran intimated that a proposal had been made to commemorate the efforts of these gentlemen by placing tablets to their memory in the new building.

His Lordship, Dr O’Connor pointed out that they had assembled to com­mence a most important work, and to lay the foundation stone of another home of God. He referred to the main sacrifices of the clergy of the diocese to be present, and said that he would be most deceived in the people of Glen Innes if they did not appreciate an object lesson in regard to genuine and self sacrifice of time. Calling to mind the memorable occasion of his first appeal, His Lordship was inspired with a hope that this would be emulated, and a spontaneous offer would be made that day, he referred to the splendid gift of the late Mr Gallagher, and passed commendatory remarks of the excellence of the plans prepared by Mgr Corcoran. He anticipated a good offering from the good people of Glen Innes and he hoped that within six months time he would again visit them to open the beautiful new church of St Patrick’s

Dedication of St Patrick’s Church 
10th October, 1909

Imbued with a strong spirit of Catholicity the Glen Innes Catholics rallied round the standard of their Bishop, on Sunday week, when the new Church of St Patrick was solemnly blessed by his Lordship Bishop O’Connor. From outlying districts the sturdy pioneers and their families streamed in to assist in the ceremonies, and favoured with ideal weather, the function was a grand success.

At the conclusion of the meeting about £500 was handed in towards the building fund. The principal contributions were: His Lordship Bishop O’Connor £50; His Lordship Bishop Murray £5; Monsignor Corcoran £20; W Bates £30; Mrs Wrigley £22; Mrs O’Brien £20; Mrs W Bates £20; Mrs Larkin £17; Boarders and ex-boarders of St Joseph’s Convent £14, 14 shillings; Very Rev Dean Tobin, Rev Fr English, Mr G Marden, Mr T Williams £10, 10 shillings each; Rev Fr Guerin, Fr Walsh, Fr Clancy, Mrs Hume £10 each.

Description of the Building

The church is designed in the Gothic style of architecture. The plan consists of a nave 72 feet in length, by 35 feet in width, with a sanctuary and vestry, and baptistery under the tower.

The Church is built with dark facing bricks and stone dressings, the water tables of buttresses are finished with splayed bricks. There are two entrances in front and one in the tower, and one in north elevation, the two front entrances having columns with foliated caps and moulded bases, and arch mouldings finished in cement.

The front buttresses have gablets, panes and pinnacles, with foliated terminals.

A circular stone tracery window is the central feature of the front gable with a two light tracery windows on each side, the gable has a saddle-stone and ornamental stone cross at its apex.

The tower stands on the south side of the front gable having buttresses with splayed bricks and large arched openings above the belfry floor. The roof of the tower is slated and finished on top with ornamental fleche, and a wrought iron cross.

The roof of the nave and sanctuary are open timbered, carried on wood principals with cuspings etc., resting on some corbels, the whole being tied with iron king and tie rods, the rafters are lined with diagonal boarding varnished. There is a cornice and frieze perforated for ventilation at wall head. The roofs are covered with Bangor slates. A large gallery spans the west end and a vestibule with parallel screens is formed inside the front doors. The seating and pulpit are of special design. The floor of the nave is paved with ironite. The building is well lighted and every care has been taken to ensure good ventilation. Round the walls are a number of marble tablets, three of which are inscribed with names of “the benefactors of the church” – Samuel Regan, J Leahy and B Gallagher.

The contractor was Mr James Lonsdale of Glen Innes, and the whole work was carried out from the designs and under the supervision of Messrs Sheerin and Hennessy, architects of The City Chambers, 243 Pitt Street, Sydney.

The painting was done by Mr Harold Clark and Mr Brackley supplied the marble work of the fonts, etc.

The Ceremony

The ceremony of blessing the new building commenced at 10.30am by which time a large congregation had assembled.

His Lordship Bishop O’Connor assisted by His Lordship Bishop Murray (North Queensland) Mgr Corcoran, Very Rev Dean Tobin, Rev JJ Clancy, Rev JJ English, Rev James Walsh and Rev C Smiers assembled outside the sacred building and the impressive ceremony of blessing the outside walls was performed. The procession then entered the building by the main entrance, chanting the Litany of the Saints and proceeded to the sanctuary where His Lordship Bishop O’Connor imparted the special blessing prescribed by the Rubric, after which the inside walls were blessed and then the church was solemnly dedicated to St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

Pontifical High Mass

High mass was proceeded with the following clergy taking part: His Lordship Bishop O’Connor (Armidale) presided at High Mass which was celebrated by Mgr Corcoran (Glen Innes), Dean Tobin (Armidale) assistant priest, Rev JJ Clancy (Tenterfield) deacon, Rev C Smiers (Emmaville) sub deacon, Rev James Walsh (Gunnedah) master of ceremonies.

During the Mass His Lordship, Dr. Murray (North Queensland) and the Rev JJ English (Inverell) occupied seats in the sanctuary.

The Dedication Sermon

The Dedication sermon was preached by His Lordship Bishop Murray, who took as his text I have heard thy prayer, and I have chosen thy place to Myself, as a House of Sacrifice. My people shall make supplication to me, and I will hear them and forgive them their sins. My eyes shall be open, and my ear attentive to the prayer of him who shall pray in this place, for I have chosen it, that My name may be there for ever, and My eyes and My heart shall be there perpetually.”

The speaker drew an apt illustration from the dedication of the temple of Solomon, to which the text referred, and in an eloquent, forcible and impressive manner brought home to the congregation the important ceremony which they had performed that day. He congratulated the congregation on the splendid edifice which they had erected.

Financial Statement

His Lordship Bishop O’Connor said that the building which they had that day blessed had cost £4,700 towards which they had £2,700 in hand leaving a debt of £2,000. They had worked generously, and had raised a very noble sum, but it was a pity that the debt of £2,000 remained. The amount ought to be a very small thing to the people of Glen Innes. They could wipe it out in one day if they put their heart to it. In one day recently in Ben Lomond he had raised £380 and also during one day at Uralla £559, not towards the local object, but towards the cost of the new Cathedral which he proposed erecting in Armidale. If the money was to go to a local object he was sure he could have raised double the amount in each place. He was pleased with the church they had erected. It was a noble structure, and a credit to their pastor and themselves. In fact, it was a credit to all who had anything to do with it, and he hoped the congregation would make use of it during their lifetime.

When coming to Glen Innes he had made up his mind how much he would give himself towards the cost of erection. When he gave them £25 at the laying of the foundation stone he made a promise of a further contribution when the building was opened. Well, when he came to Glen Innes and saw the beauty of it he made up his mind to give double what he originally intended to give viz £50. The priests who were there that day had also decided to double the amounts they had intended to give and he wanted the congregation to follow his example and give double what they intended giving when they left home. Was this too great a sacrifice? No, for if a reward was promised for a cup of water given in His name what reward could they expect for a sacrifice of this kind. The church was now no longer theirs, for they had that day solemnly handed it over to God. It was almost free of debt. Let not the banker be master of the house, but God.

The Singing

The choral service was quite in keeping with the ceremony, the majestic and solemn appeal of devotional and soulful singing being very fine. The grand tonal quantities of the new organ assisted in making the ceremony long to be remembered. Winters bright and tuneful Mass was chosen for the occasion and although the choir was not a strong body they rendered the work in a very creditable manner. Miss Brown and Mr Penn joined in the several dual parts with pleasing effect, the blend of voices being splendid. The solo lines were also taken by the abovementioned, ably assisted by Mrs Carroll. Miss Brown sang Luigi Luzzi’s “Ave Maria” at the Offertory displaying the beauties of her dramatic mezzo-soprano voice. At the evening ceremonies Miss Brown again sang an “Ave Maria” and joined with Miss P. Wynn and Messrs Penn and Carroll in Rossi’s “Tantum Ergo” and Mr Penn gave Mascagni’s “Ave Maria” and Weiss “O’Salutaris” in a masterly and devotional manner, while Mrs J Higgins presided most effectively at the new organ.

The Church has stood over the years as a focal point in the town and a place of gathering for the Catholic Community. Each weekend the bell rings out inviting all to come and worship. Here parents come to bring their children for baptism, here lovers come to dedicate themselves to each other in marriage, here mourners come with their departed loved ones to pray God’s blessings upon them and to thank Him as they celebrate in union with the Risen Christ their life and their death.

For almost ninety years St. Patrick’s has played an important part in the lives of the Catholic Community here in Glen Innes.

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