A Hospital for Sinners – A Training Ground for Saints


By 1945 there were three curates assisting the seventh parish priest, Father John Garvey, and further Mass centres added. The purchase of Roscommon Estate in 1945 paved the way for the establishment of a boys’ secondary school in the post war years. The Capuchin Friars established themselves at Wynnum Queensland, with a mission to work amongst the new migrants coming to Australia from many parts of Europe. In 1946 The Order assumed responsibility of the Halifax parish because it would be the base from which they could conduct their missionary work amongst the thousands of new immigrants arriving in the Townsville diocese. They lived in the old presbytery until a friary was built in 1951.

Father Garvey was replaced in 1948 by eighth parish priest, Father David O’Meara, who brought to fruition projects initiated by Father Garvey, among them Cardinal Gilroy College and the addition of a second storey to the Our Lady of Lourdes Convent building. He was assisted by four curates.

Cardinal Gilroy College was opened on June 26, 1949 on the Roscommon Estate land while Santa Maria College for girls was opened in the Our Lady of Lourdes Convent School complex. A community of three Christian Brothers came to staff Cardinal Gilroy College. The college was named after Norman Thomas Gilroy, the first Australian born priest to achieve the rank of cardinal. A second storey was added to the Our Lady of Lourdes Convent building in 1949 because the congregation of Mercy Sisters had outgrown the single storey convent.

In 1949 Father O’Meara invited an Italian missionary order, the Canossian Sisters of Charity, to set up a school in Trebonne. The school opened in 1951. It was hoped that the Sisters would be able to encourage the Italian families to enroll their children at the school and by this means soften the anti-clericalism evident among the Italians of the district. The school opened as St. Josephs School and today operates as Canossa Primary School. With the coming of the Canossian Sisters of Charity the school building could be used as a Mass centre for Trebonne of a Sunday.

In 1953, the year of the Golden Jubilee of the foundation of the parish of St. Patrick, Ingham, the seventh small country church was opened, the Church of the Holy Family at Hawkins Creek. In the same year Abergowrie was made a separate parish with Father Vandeleur as parish priest. Father Rush assumed that role soon after, allowing Father Vandeleur to concentrate on his role as Director of St. Teresa’s College. The eighth country church, dedicated to Saint Paul, was opened in 1956 at Long Pocket.

In October 1957 the new East Ingham parish of Pius X was created with Father David O’Meara as its first parish priest. The former St. Patrick’s Parish was divided with Palm Creek a rough dividing line. The parish priest of the newly created parish was to reside at Cardinal Gilroy College and the Chapel of Our Lady of Fatima would become the parish Mass centre. In January 1958 a school hall and presbytery were erected. The school hall would serve as a parish centre as well.
Father Francis R. Rush became the ninth parish priest of Ingham In 1957. On June 7 1959, the centenary year of Queensland, the ninth small church in the district: the St. Francis Xavier’s Church and School, Victoria Estate, was opened.
The introduction of Planned Giving in 1957 revolutionized finances. Parishes now had the ability to negotiate bank loans on the virtue of their pledged income and to plan for material expansion. It was after this that both Halifax and Ingham decided to build new parish churches. Planned Giving however, was considered to ring the death knell for sodalities. Sodalities were one of the means employed by the Church to nurture in the laity a reverence for and a commitment to the practice of the Sacraments. These groups helped to give their members a sense of belonging and encouragement in the practice of their faith and were vital in a time when, because of their small numbers within the wider community, Catholics may have felt alone and isolated. The sodalities were also seen as symbolic of a healthy, vital parish. In the days before Planned Giving, the sodalities were central too, to raising parish funds. Fund raising event provided much welcome opportunities for socializing in a frontier settlement starved of entertainment. Hence the Parish and its sodalities provided a round of house parties, euchre games, dances, bazaars, children’s fancy dress balls and such like.

When Father Francis Rush was appointed seventh Bishop of Rockhampton in 1960, Father Michael Mullins became the tenth parish priest of Ingham. On March 12 1961 the new St. Patrick’s Church, Ingham was blessed and opened by the new Bishop, Francis Rush. The church was built as a memorial to those who died in wars that Australia had been involved in, and was dedicated to St. Patrick. It is constructed in the shape of a cross.