After five years of inactivity at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Yuna, north-east of the City of Geraldton – the Diocese of Geraldton have called for expressions of interest to start the sale of the 59-year-old property.
The history of the Church dates to 1963, when Monsignor Owen O’Connor was appointed Parish Priest of Northampton.
Around this time, the idea of starting a church in Yuna was sparked, followed by a planned giving programme that would eventually enable the church to be constructed.
Charles Taylor donated the land and local parishioners donated their time.
On 22 October 1967, Our Lady Queen of Peace Church was blessed and opened by then Bishop of Geraldton, Most Reverend Francis Xavier Thomas.
Both Anglican and Catholic Church services were conducted in this building.
The first Mass in the Yuna area was celebrated 99 years ago in the original McGauran family home located in East Yuna by the famous Monsignor Hawes in 1923.
A small stone altar and cross memorial was built at the site by Duncan McGauran and dedicated at a Mass celebrated on 29 August 1983 by Bishop Foley and Father Robert Cross (Parish Priest 1983 to 1986 and 1989 to 1992).
A section of the 2022 Camino San Francisco (July 29, 30 and 31) are scheduled to walk through the McGauran property this year to commemorate the 99th anniversary of the first Mass in Yuna.
Recalling the history of the Church, Fr Robert Cross told The Record that between the years 1967 to the 1990s’, the parish would have had a regular attendance of 10 to 20 persons.
However, since the 90s’, Fr Robert explained that families have become smaller; causing farms to be bought out and amalgamated by financial investment institutions.
“These factors and more, have drastically reduced the populations of wheatbelt towns and surrounding communities. Regretfully this has a flow effect, making it impossible to properly maintain rural services and infrastructure, including the extensive services and facilities of the Catholic Church,” Fr Robert said.
“Churches that once had regular Mass attendances of 100 or more persons each weekend struggle to have a regular attendance of five people on a weekend. The funds necessary to maintain these churches and provide for the clergy who supply their services are scant and the future looks bleak.
“Even the local “watering hole” in Yuna closed down several years ago because of its economic viability. Now it is the time for the official closure of the Church,” he said.
Fr Robert added that the property is currently on the market, but before its’ official closing, there will be a farewell Mass, to enable the current and former parishioners to share their experiences and memories of this sacred place that have contributed to the identity of the Yuna district.
“The Yuna Catholic Community have chosen to give the proceeds received from the sale of their Church for the conservation and maintenance of to the Monsignor Hawes Church of Our Lady of Fatima located approximately 50 kilometers from Yuna in the Chapman Valley.”
For expressions of interest for the sale of the Catholic Church and associated 1.2ha of land located on Lot 14, Yuna – Tenindewa Road, Yuna, please contact Fr Robert Cross at 08 99213221. This building would suit project conversion to a house.