By Marco Ceccarelli
There could not have been a better way to both inaugurate the now fully functional Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Karlgarin and celebrate its 50th anniversary than with a visit and blessing from Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB.
Parish Priest Father Sebastian Fernando, who regularly celebrates Mass at Karlgarin (one of the five Mass centres of the Corrigin/Kulin parish), together with numerous parishioners from the area, were delighted to welcome the Archbishop into their newly renovated Church on Sunday, 3 April.
Archbishop Costelloe celebrated Mass at Our Lady Help of Christians with Fr Fernando, re-blessed the Church and joined parishioners for lunch to cut the 50th anniversary cake and hear more about the history of this rural Church.
Devastated by a freak storm on 15 January 2013, Our Lady Help of Christians in Karlgarin needed major repairs to its roof, most of which had been torn off by the wind, as well as significant renovations to areas of the Church affected by rain.
Over the past three years, it has gradually been given a new lease on life and finally been restored to its original splendour.
The original roof structure of the Church was re-engineered, some stained glass windows were repaired and the overall acoustics of the building were significantly improved.
In an interview with The eRecord, parishioner Vanessa Spurr commented on the significance of this event for Karlgarin Church and the entire Corrigin/Kulin parish.
“For the Archbishop to come out here was simply incredible,” Mrs Spurr said.
“He is a very well-spoken and approachable individual who embraced the entire community with his presence. Moreover, many of those in the town and its surroundings who had stopped coming to Church returned for this celebration. His visit brought a lot of people back to the Church.”
Mrs Spurr went on to speak of the effort put into the rebuilding of many parts of the town of Karlgarin over the past years. She specifically praised Fr Sebastian Fernando for his unyielding perseverance in the restoration and preservation of Our Lady Help of Christians.
“We’ve been through a lot here in Karlgarin. The storm took away our general store, damaged the post office and many other buildings… and that is a lot for a small rural town.
“Fr Fernando was the driving force behind the repairs of the Church. While he could not have done what he has without the help of many who lent their support, he orchestrated its restoration marvellously,” Mrs Spurr said.
Blessed and opened by the recently deceased Most Rev Myles McKeon on 13 March 1966, Our Lady Help of Christians was built by local farmers.
Following Mass, one of the remaining farmers who helped build the Church in the 1960s, John Hinck, spoke briefly of the history of the Church.
Mr Hinck recalled the sacrifices made by farmers at the time in terms of entire paddocks of wheat in order to raise funds to build the Church. He also recalled the ongoing transportation of bricks on farmers’ trucks which would be used to create a solid structure that withstood the storm.
Archbishop Costelloe remained for the cutting of the 50th anniversary cake before making the trip back to Perth.