St Cecilia’s celebrates 50th

Daneka HillNorth West Telegraph
Father Edward Khaemba with a 50 year plaque to be installed on the weekend with Sean Sta Maria and Maggie Galvin with a newspaper capturing damange from Cyclone Joan in 1975.
Camera IconFather Edward Khaemba with a 50 year plaque to be installed on the weekend with Sean Sta Maria and Maggie Galvin with a newspaper capturing damange from Cyclone Joan in 1975. Credit: Daneka Hill

The oldest church in Port Hedland celebrated 50 years of worship at its current seafront location recently.

Past priests, patrons and Bishop Michael Morrissey were all present for the historic celebration at St Cecilia’s Catholic Church on Sunday.

St Cecilia’s, once known simply as the Catholic Church, is far older than 50 years but its move from a tin shed on Edger Street to Sutherland Street in 1969 represents the start of its current life.

Daughter of founding members Matthias and Belinda Dann, Maggie Galvin, said the church was started by families from Beagle Bay mission who wanted somewhere to practise their faith.

The 78-year-old recalled how worshippers would gather after work to make bricks for the church walls. Surviving bricks can still be found in the church’s gardens.

Long-time churchgoer Sean Sta Maria said he recalled the first time he attended mass at St Cecilia’s, a week after arriving in town and days after being moved out by a cyclone yellow alert.

“It was stinking hot in there, the air conditioners weren’t working at all,” he said.

St Cecilia’s Church has survived many changes, including notorious handyman Father Desmond, with remains of his attempt to paint the walls a dramatic blue still visible on beams inside the church.

Both Mrs Galvin and Mr Sta Maria were confident the church would reach a 100-year anniversary.

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