Inverell’s Sacred Heart Parish story is more than bricks and mortar; it’s about the congregations, the pupils at the schools and the clergy who served the Parish.
The history of the Inverell district can be traced back to 1840 when the workers and their families were visited once or twice a year by travelling priests. Some of the earliest marriages took place in Maitland, other couples waited till a member of the clergy came by horseback or buggy to the property.
Inverell saw their first parish priest Father Francis McLaughlin in 1868, a 25-year-old Irish man. As there was neither church nor presbytery, he lodged with the senior constable. Mass was held at a hotel, or parishioners homes. His journey around the district took him from Inverell to Moree, north to Goondiwindi, and east to Wellingrove. Sadly this young man became extremely ill in 1869 and passed away. Members of the congregation and townspeople erected an outstanding monument to him at the Inverell cemetery.
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This monument together with many other notable headstones in the old section of the Old Catholic portion of the Inverell cemetery will be visited on a special cemetery walk on Saturday, October 20, from 9am. Everyone is welcome.
By 1870 tenders were called to erect the first Catholic Church in Inverell on land on the corner of Rivers and Otho Street. The church was described ‘as quite picturesque, beautifully situated’. One of the first marriages at the new church was that of Aloysius Vercoe and Isabella Spicer.
The years rolled by and the congregation grew, soon they were looking at building a new church and Presbytery. Firstly the new Catholic school which was opened in October 1914, followed by the church and presbytery.
These buildings stood proudly until 1982, when on September 10th that year the last mass was celebrated in this old church. The Presbytery, church and Sacred Heart church were to be demolished. Dramatic photographs of the demolition can be seen in the Exhibition at the church during the celebrations from the 14th to the October 20.
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Today we see a very modern church, now situated in Vivian Street. The old church site is occupied by the Inverell Shire Council.
Tickets for the Celebration dinner on Saturday night the 20th are still available at $35 each till after mass this Sunday. There are no ticket sales on the night as numbers are needed for catering. Commemorative books are available anytime at $20.