THREE years of careful planning have culminated in three days of enthusiastic celebrations marking the 100th birthday of Armidale’s Catholic Cathedral of Saint Mary and Joseph.
Chairman of the cathedral centenary committee, Nick Hanson, said the weekend’s program of events had proved “highly successful”.
A packed congregation of about 800 people, including many schoolchildren, attended the special Mass held on Friday honouring the contribution that religious brothers and sisters have made to Catholic education.
Bishop Michael Kennedy, who presided over the service, delivered a homily about the idea of the church as a family.
In the audience were his immediate predecessors, former Armidale diocese bishops Luc Matthys and Kevin Manning, along with the Bishop of Wagga Wagga, Gerard Hanna.
Mr Hanson said Bishop Kennedy’s homily did allude to the scandal surrounding the former priest Father F, who was charged with 25 counts of child sex abuse on Thursday.
“The bishop mentioned that it is a difficult time for the church,” Mr Hanson said. “He realises that people feel a sense of shame and hurt.”
A special guest over the weekend was 91-year-old Peggy Becke, the only surviving daughter of the cathedral’s builder, George Nott.
Mrs Becke, who now lives in Sydney, attended Saturday’s community garden party held in the grounds of St Mary’s school.
She wore the gold chain (part of a gold chain and watch set) that had been presented to her late father by the grateful parishioners of Armidale.
Festivities at the garden party included games for children, a fashion parade featuring costumes from each of the decades of the past 100 years, the O’Connor College string ensemble and the Armidale City Band, which has a special connection to the cathedral.
“They were the principal entertainment,” Mr Hanson said. “The interesting thing is that not long after this cathedral was finished, the president of the Armidale City Band was George Nott the builder.
“So we had that historical connection with them, and we had George Nott’s daughter here as well.”
Centenary celebrations will conclude today with a Mass of Thanksgiving for the clergy at 11am followed by a special lunch.