Two rural churches set for sale
TWO of the oldest Catholic churches in the Archdiocese appear destined for new owners, as populations in rural areas continue to decline.
St Columba’s Catholic Church in Koorawatha (built in 1932) and St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Weethalle (built in 1956) have been used less frequently in recent times, but remain places of significant historical value.
On November 1, Weethalle parishioners gathered for Sunday Mass for the last time at the church, after which they shared fond memories of life in the parish.
West Wyalong parish priest Fr Emil Milat said the low numbers of regular Mass-goers at Weethalle made the decision inevitable.
“A monthly Mass at times had only two people and sometimes none in attendance so it was not feasible to continue,” he said.
“The future of the Church is yet to be decided by the community. Sale is an option that is being discussed or perhaps a couple moving from Canberra to live at the spacious property rent free to minister spiritually to the local community.
“The Church is not a corporation, but a family, so if the cessation of Masses makes it harder for one person to attend Sunday Mass, it is a significant problem and we must seek new pastoral methods, through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, to meet the difficulty.”
Monthly Masses will continue at the parish’s other two small churches at nearby Tallimba and Rankins Springs. Fr Emil will also continue to pastorally care for the community by celebrating baptisms, funerals and special events.
A decision on the future of the Koorawatha church is also yet to be confirmed, however, parish administrator Fr Tom Thornton said the parish finance council and parish pastoral council are looking to sell the church, which is in a state of disrepair.
“The cost of repairs, maintenance and assorted other outlays are not warranted due to its lack of use,” Fr Tom wrote in the parish bulletin.
Parishioners have been encouraged to express any concerns about the pending sale in writing.