Had the town of Macarthur retained its aboriginal name, it would be known today as Eumerella – meaning Valley of Plenty.
A read of Simone Dalton’s book “Boring? Not Likely – Great Characters of Macarthur” introduces us to a town rich in amazing characters since 1857. Long before the boom of soldier settlement in the 1950s, the strength of community spirit was evident and those living in the past, helped shape the town’s future.
Macarthur is rightly proud to boast its war heroes, authors, architects and many other notable residents. They can also boast their first pub fully operational long before the town was even surveyed. The book speaks of the resilience, sheer guts and determination of town people who rose above issues of division including racism.
The following article submitted by parishioner Colleen Hill in 2006 tells of St Malachy’s from the beginning. With clergy able to put their theological difference aside, churches united in support of one another during the establishing years. Some even shared a church bell.
While many precious stories of the past have gone with their owners, others remain happy memories of today’s parishioners. Church balls were special occasions that brought both Catholic and Protestants together, not allowing religion to divide their friendship. Another memorable church celebration would have to be the triple wedding of the Lucas daughters, whose family of 12 lived directly across the road. Then there was Fr Kavanagh who relied on the altar boys to tap his foot if his sermons went too long. That same altar boy recalls the Hamilton servers swigging wine when the priest wasn’t looking.
Reference: “The History of St Malachy’s Church 1887 – 1987″ and “Boring? Not Likely” by Simone Dalton
Parish Team Member
Before there was any Catholic Church in Macarthur the local parishioners celebrated Mass in the Twist family’s home. Priests from Hamilton would service the area at irregular intervals.
In 1870 the first Catholic Church officially opened with Mass by Rev Fr Farrelly, however by 1885 Fr Shanahan urged the locals to build a more substantial sized church to accommodate the population growth. A church built from local stone taken from a property on Lake Gorrie Road was completed at a cost of 530 pounds. Through the generosity of other denominations and parish community fundraising, a total of 120 pounds was raised locally.
With thanks to the interdenominational friendship of that time, St Malachy’s were grateful for the lend of an organ as accompaniment for the opening mass on 9th October 1887. Five years later and more fundraising saw a new organ for the church. Additional renovations to the building followed spanning the next ninety years.
Whilst attendance numbers may have risen and fallen at St Malachy’s the spirit has remained steadfast thanks to the dedication of the local parishioners.