Parish romance produces 64 new Catholics

11 Feb 2009

By The Record

Two people heavily involved in their local parish community meet, fall in love, grow in faith and are still together 65 years later. Sounds like a prototype for the future of the Church…

John and Bernadette O’Reilly’s wedding photo.

elebrated 65 years of marriage with a big family party in Perth on January 31.
Their actual anniversary date was on February 5, but who could blame them and their family for wanting to get the celebrations underway a bit early?
Among their truly admirable achievements is the 55 years they spent in the same home in North Perth, where they brought up their 11 children – five boys and six girls. But that’s not all.
They have 35 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren, with great-grandchild number 30 due later this year.
The couple were married at Sacred Heart Church in Highgate in 1934 and held their reception in the church hall.
It was truly a parish romance, with John (also known as ‘Jack’) living in Vincent Street opposite the church hall and Bernadette living in Chelmsford Road behind the parish presbytery.
The couple were very much part of the local Catholic community of their day.
John’s sister, Molly, now deceased, became a Presentation Sister (Sr Louis) at Iona Convent in Mosman Park. Bernadette’s younger brother, was Fr Joseph Russell.
Her father, Edward, was a well-known builder in Perth and built St Mary’s Church in Leederville near Aranmore College and grottos to Our Lady at Clontarf and Sacred Heart Convent in Highgate.
He also erected buildings at Bindoon and Tardun for the Christian Brothers.
Bernadette’s brothers Gerard, Pat and Ned were also builders and built Our Lady’s Chapel at the side of Sacred Heart Church in Highgate.
The couple finally moved to Kingsway Court Retirement Village in Madeley about 18 months ago.
The family celebration was also held as a double birthday celebration for the couple.
John will turn 90 on May 19 this year while Bernadette turned 86 on January 31, the day of the family get-together.
Their daughter Patricia also supplied The Record with a copy of a poem written by Bernadette’s mother, believed to have been composed in the 1930s.