The Solemn Opening’ of the New St. Raphael’s, Golden Jubilee of Cowra Parish and Parish Priest.
The delightful Australian Autumn had returned once again. It spread its healing heavenly balm over the whole land. It moved upwards along the slopes of the Lachlan Valley, coaxing the parched soil of lowland and hillside into verdant life. The rolling uplands were once again bedecked with swathes of emerald green, and expanding foliage shaped the shrunken trees into graceful forms. From the sympathy of its gentle touch Cowra’s town and country people became imbued with a new courage after so many months of devitalizing heat. The fiery rays of the mid-summer sun had grown mild and mellow while the biting frosts that herald Winter’s approach were as yet far distant. Once again had come the glory of the Australian Autumn when last year’s failures are forgotten by the indomitable farmers and they begin to cultivate with renewed vigour, planting deep the seed of a future harvest. in the loamy soil now so soft and pliable after the recent heavy rains.
One such beautiful Autumn day was Wednesday, the 19th April, 1939, when Archdeacon O’Kennedy, Cowra’s venerable Pastor, now in the Autumn of his priestly life, chose to solemnly open for public worship the new House of God which he had caused to he built, the enchanting and agreeably surprising Church of St Raphael the Archangel. By this magnificent solemnisation he most appropriately celebrated the golden Jubilee of his parish, Ccwra, and put the crowning touch to his own Fifty Golden Years as its Parish Priest.
On the evening of April the 5th quietly and solemnly a little procession wended its way from the temporary Church-School flanking the main street and entered by the south side-door the stately edifice that is the new St. Raphael’s. It was a procession of the Blessed Sacrament. Our Eucharistic Lord had come to take possession of His new dwelling place. It was in the fading light of the evening on Wednesday of Holy Week when in episcopal cities priests were gathered in the gloom to recite the Tenebrae. It was a sombre entry for it was the beginning of Passiontide when from the Cathedral sanctuaries of the world were heard the ancient songs of sorrow and lamentation:
“How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people!
How is the mistress of the Gentiles become as a Widow, the princes of provinces made tributary!
Weeping she hath wept in the night and her tears are on her cheeks: there is none to comfort her among all them that were dear to her:
All her friends have despised her and are become her enemies.”
It was the hour to begin the Commemoration of the Passion of our Divine Lord. Into the late hours of the night the faithful thronged the New Church. Having duly begged for true contritlon before our Divine Lord in the New Home of His Love, one by one, they humbly entered the Sacred Tribunal of Penance in the new mural Confessionals to leave behind them through the absolution of their sins, the skeletons of their dead-selves. They came forth renewed in the life of the Spirit which is Sanctifying Grace, and in their Thanksgiving looked forward to the morrow’s Festival for they were rendered worthy to partake of the Lord’s Supper, to receive the Precious Body and Blood of Our Divine Lord in Holy Communion. For the morrow brought forth Holy Thursday, that Festival of Joy in the midst of sorrow. “Jesus having loved His own …. He loved them unto the end” and made us wealthy by His Last Will and Testament when, offering the first Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, He bequeathed to us Himself in the Blessed Sacrament.
How befitting was the presence of the old Parish Priest himself on the Altar of the New St. Raphael’s on Maundy Thursday morning. Fifty.-nine years before he had been raised to the Eternal Priesthood of Jesus Christ, had been endowed with the powers Christ gave to His Apostles, and had been commanded to go forth, to speak and act in the name of Jesus Christ. How consonant that on this morning he should stand in the place of’ Jesus Christ before the Table of the Altar, and in obedience to the Divine Command-“Do this in commemoration of Me,” exercise his priestly powers to pronounce the Words of Mystery-“This is My Body; This is My Blood.”
FIRST MASS IN NEW CHURCH.
What a huge concourse of people attended the First Mass celebrated in the New Church by the “Old Man”! They filled up the nave, then the aisles, and very soon the attendants were busy finding space for worshippers in the gallery. “What a huge Church!” it had oft, been said quizzically. Here was the answer to all these sceptics in matters of the Faith. For the first time the Venerable Pastor was able to survey the greater part of his flock at one gathering’. Whilst he sat in his chair during Holy Communion, how his heart must have rejoiced to see them filing from seat after seat to the Sanctuary Steps to receive the Bread of Life. Ministering at a Communion Rail which can accommodate forty persons at once, his two Assistant Priests were kept busy for over twenty minutes distributing Holy Communion. “When shall we see a crowded Church like that again?” On Easter Sunday morning there was a significant. reply when the enthusiasm and devotion of Holy Thursday was repeated at the 7 o’clock Mass and the 9 o’clock Mass drew a congregation which comfortably filled the vast dimensions of St. Raphael’s. “I am the Resurrection and the Life, he that believeth in Me although he be dead, shall live.” Surely no man ever spoke as He spake.
During these days and the following week replies to invitations to the Opening Ceremony were pouring in from all parts of the State of New South Wales and indeed from outside the State. The Hierarchy, Clergy and Laity from many places were invited to the sanctification
and public dedication of this New House of the Holy One Of God on the banks of the River Lachlan. Through the courtesy of His Lordship the Bishop, Most Rev. Dr Norton, replies to invitations from distinguished Members of the Hierarchy were forwarded to the Presbytery. Very soon a joyful people revelled in the knowledge that His Grace Archbishop Duhig was coming all the way from Brisbane to preach the occasional sermon; that Most Rev. Dr Fox, Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes, was on his way from Broken Hill via Sydney to celebrate the Pontifical High Mass; and that Most Rev. Dr Henschke, Auxiliary Bishop of Wagga Wagga, would, accompany Dr Fox on the night-train from Sydney, and would make the special appeal to augment the Building Fund of the New Church. The faithful visualised the splendour and brilliancy the presence of these Prelates and their own Presiding Bishop would lend to the ceremonial of the memorable occasion.
THE OPENING DAY.
Many roads lead to Cowra at all times, but from what a multitudinous net-work of highways and by-ways did that vast, assemblage of Hierarchy, Clergy, and Laity come on April 19th. By plane, by midnight express, by powerful fast-moving cars, visitors were whirled to the scene of the celebrations, while pedestrians converged on the Church grounds from every point of the compass. Whether from the Metropolis of Brisbane or Sydney, from country town or village, or from the far flung Back Blocks of the Bush, all eventually poured into the spacious Church Yard from Kendal, Liverpool and Lachlan Streets, from Canowindra Road and from “over the Bridge.” No matter what direction they streamed in, the magnificent structure of St Raphael’s loomed large in front of them, its vast dimensions spreading gracefully before their eyes. It held their attention from afar, for the outstanding Romanesque Architecture of the whole construction under a delightful roof of Spanish tiles could be fully appreciated at. a distance. At close range the beauty of the building must necessarily be studied in sections. On entering Lachlan Street the visitor’s gaze is immediately arrested by the front elevation which faces westward towards the river and the setting Sun. Here a gorgeous facade of red and bronze-like brick with sunken joints rises in clear-cut tiers to a height of forty feet, to be crowned by a harmonious array of gable steppings. Its details immediately captivate the mind. A large scale rose window forms the central feature. and its accompanying window slits direct attention to the main portals – three double doors of polished silky oak framed between massive folds of moulded brick and graceful columns of beautifully carved Sydney Sandstone. Three semi-circular stone panels crown these doors having the raised emblems-Cross, Anchor and Heart. to symbolise the three theological virtues – Faith, Hope and Charity. The two octagonal terminals of the side Aisles capped by Minarets flank this striking facade and embrace the large terrace fringed with steps of Sydney Brick. When the full-sized statue of St Raphael is placed on the pedestal that awaits it over the spacious treble entrance, it will complete a church frontage worthy to adorn any Cathedral.
FURTHER ARCHITECTURAL DETAILS.
From the front the observer is naturally attracted to the south side, running parallel to Kendal street, where the imposing proportions of the huge tower grow ever more stern as they mount eighty six feet toward the sky. The bristling rows of multi formed brick around its open top windows give one the feeling of an embattled fortress girded with power. It conceals nothing more harmful than a hallowed bell one hundred and twenty-two years old and its inscription reads- “J. Maher, Bathurst, 1817.” You may ascend to this altitude by a steel cat ladder which, beginning at the entrance to the gallery, runs straight up along the barrel wall inside to a height of forty feet, then turns over on itself to reach the central trap-door entrance to the Belfry. This Belfry has a pinnacle sheeted with copper, surmounted by the symbolical Ball and Cross, and surrounded by four Minarets of similar design.
Entering by one of the main doors one is surprised by a spacious lofty Narthex with three double push-doors leading into the main body of the Church. On the left-hand side of this Narthex is an arched opening framing the windows in the opposite wall. These windows will hold stained glass representations of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, which the Bishop has donated toSt. Raphael’s Church in memory of his parents.
The open archway leads into a Baptistry which later will have font and grille, all donated by Very Rev. Father McNamarra, Parish Priest of North Parramatta, a Iif’e-Iong friend of the Archdeacon. On the right-hand side of the Narthex two doors open, one to the Mortuary, the other to the concrete stairway that leads up to tower and Gallery, Between these two doors on a high pedestal stands a beautiful statue of St Raphael, the patron of all travellers. with staff in hand and outstretched elevated wings poised in an attitude of protection, as if on guard over the surrounding entrances and exits. This also was donated to the Church by His Lordship, Most Rev. Dr. Norton.
On pushing open one of the double swing doors the vast nave and aisles of the Church, 79ft. long and 58ft. wide, divided by three passage ways between four. rows of seats, stretch out like a dream picture of architectural beauty. These three ambulatories are intersected by two cross aisles, one to the side porches on the north and south, and the other running along the Communion rails and marking off the Sanctuary. All these aisles, the two side porches and the Narthex as well as the Baptistery and tower stairs entrance are tiled with small Czechoslovakian tiles of crazy mosaic design. The comfortable, well-designed seats, the Communion Rails extending the whole width of the Church, the three Mural Confessionals, all the doors and the gallery frontal are of silky oak stained dark brown and polished to a beautiful finish.
The aisles are separated from the nave by two magnificent brick Colonnades, each with five arches 18ft. wide, whose raked joints and stone capitals give an impressive atmosphere of severe and majestic beauty. The main walls rising from these Colonnades to support the roof of the nave are each pierced by a row of double rectangular windows which all open and close simultaneously by a simple winding- device. The nave roof rises to a height of 40ft. from the floor and is supported by double braced steel trusses. These are encased in redwood panelling, while the whole ceiling treatment of nave and aisles is Donnaq Conna, a material renowned for its good acoustic properties as well as its heat-resisting qualities.
The lower portion of the interior walls throughout the whole building has an uniform feature of faced brickwork in colours of deep red and dark blue blending in peculiar sheen and rising to a height of five feet from the floor. This dado is capped by a five membered beading in plaster mould which rises over doorways, and Confessional recesses, and stretches up to embrace each Station of the Cross. These beautiful Stations, in Roman Cement., whose figures done in high relief are a credit to the sculptor’s Art, were donated by Mrs Alice M. A. Cass, The wall space from the dado moulding to the aisle roof is characterised by cream-coloured matt. finished cement-work. The side aisle windows have semi-circular arches and, uniform with all windows throughout the building, are steel-framed and glazed with amber coloured lead lights. The window ventilation enters as an up-draught created by the medium of gussets attached to the lower portions of the sashes. A majestic feature of the Sanctuary is its graceful expansive arch reaching almost to the nave roof and framing the High Altar between its stately columns. The flooring of the main Sanctuary, as also that of the Side Altars, is cement coloured with fadeless pigment of creamy buff. The simple finish to the Sanctuary and stone faced side Altar spaces is called forth by the hope of a future Marble Altar set in suitable surroundings. On each side of the. Main Altar there is an exit to the rear through small archways crowned with semi-circular enrichments of keen cement. The end wall of the Apse acts as a reliquary, for here are found the ancient foundation stone of the last St. Raphaels and also the Corner stone of the Sanctuary which was added to the Church in 1902. A marble slab dedicated to the memory of Samuel Stephen and John Patrick Brown by Johanna Mary Brown announces the name of the donor of that demolished Sanctuary. At the entrance to the Sacristies stands a beautiful carving of a miniature St Raphael holding a Holy Water font. This work of art was presented to the Church by the Pepper family about 1930.
PROCESSION OF HIERARCHY & CLERGY.
By 9 o’clock in the morning we mention a thousand people had taken their places within the Church and were studying for themselves the architecture of their surroundings in general and those features which were nigh unto them in particular. The Solemn Pontifical High Mass was to commence at 10 a.m. Long before this, the eager congregation had taken their seats whilst the Hierarchy and Clergy going round to the Sacristy entrance were being marshalled in processional order by the Master of Ceremonies. At length the Clerical Procession reached the main doors and, as they advanced, the massed Choir of mixed voices broke forth into the stirring strains of the “Ecce Sacerdos Magnus.” “Behold a Great Priest,” Full of vigour
and heavenly rejoicing was the lively rendering of this inspired piece in a well-balanced two part harmony. It lent energy to the step of old priests who grasped its full significance, and humility notwithstanding, they were duly grateful for its spirited recitation. Up the centre aisle they passed with measured tread, first the junior and then the Senior Clergy and filed into the front seats of the nave. As they came forward the Jubilarian around whom the ceremony resolved itself was already seated in the Sanctuary, and by his side, as on many previous great occasions, was the venerable Parish Priest of North Parramatta, Very Rev. Father McNamarra. Behind the clergy came the Monsignori – two by two, then the Bishops in single file, and the members of this section of the procession passed on to their respective positions in the Sanctuary where Most Rev. Dr Fox was already seated on the faldstool surrounded by the Sacred Ministers.
THE PONTIFICAL MASS.
Most Rev. Dr Norton, Bishop of the Diocese, presided at the Pontifical High Mass. The Celebrant was Most Rev. Dr Fox (Bishop of Wilcannia-F’orbes), In the Sanctuary were His Grace Most Rev. Dr Duhig (Archbishop of Brisbane), Most Rev. Dr Henschke (Auxiliary Bishop of Wagga) , Right. Rev. Monsignor Flanagan, P.P. V.G. (Mudgee) , Right Rev. Monsignor Moran, P.P. V.G. (Parkes) , Right Rev. Monsignor O’Donnell, P.P. V.F. (Dubbo) , the venerable Jubilarian Archdeacon O’Kennedy, P.P. V.F. (Cowra), Very Rev. Father Mc Namarra, P.P (North Parramatta) , and Mr. R. J. Fagan, K.C.S.G. (Mandurama) .
When all were seated the vesting of the Celebrant proceeded and in a little while he was moving towards the Altar and Pontifical Mass at the faldstool had begun. The splendid Choir took up the theme of praise and prayer from the Gallery end and their beautiful chanting of the Gregorian increased the solemnity of a liturgy already heavily charged with deep spiritual significance. The ceremonies were a beautiful picture to watch, full of grace and decorum, as the great work of offering the Holy SacrIfice proceeded on its majestic way.
Very Rev. Fr C. Loneragan (Canowindra) was Deacon; Rev. Father T. Wisely (Rockley) Sub-deacon; Very Rev. Fr P. Casey (Carcoar) , Assistant Priest. At the throne as Assistant Priests to Bishop Norton were Very Rev. Fr T. Lynch (Temora) and Very Rev. Fr P. O’Dohertv (West Wyalong); Rev. Fr J. Scanlon (Wellington) and Rev. Father P. Masterson (Cowra), were Masters of Ceremonies.
The Priests present in the Nave for the ceremony were:-Verv Rev. Dean O’Farrell (Coonamble), Very Rev. Fathers R. Macken. C.M. (Provincial) , Ashfield, Lawrence, C.P. (Goulburn) , M. Dunne (Adm., Bathurst) , J. P. Kelly, P.P. (Wellington), and F. King, C.M, (St Stanislaus’ College, Bathurst) , the Rev. Fathers Cusack, P.P. (Portland), P. J. Dernpsey, P.P. (Rydalmere), D. Griffin, P.P. (Bribbaree), McKenna, P.P. (Cootamundra) , Crowe, P.P. (Gulgong), Rev. Fathers J. Sheahan (Adm., Orange), F. Keogh (Orange), C. Cahill, C.SS.R. (Galong); Cummins, C.SS.R. (Galong) , J. McKeown, P.P. (Coonabarabran) , J. McDade, P.P. (Grenfell), M. Bugler, P.P. (Koorawat.ha),
J. Nolan, P.P. (Eugowra), M. Hayes (Molong), D. Emelhainz (Coonabarabran) , R. Barrow (Coonamble), B. Hudson (Adm., Darllnghurst), J. Ring, P.P. (Kandos) , W. Fahy (Sydney), A. Maher (Dunedoo) , E. Murphy (Bathurst), J. O’Dea (Canowindra), R. Searson, P.P. (Cumnock), P. Kelly (Dubbo), H. Leonard, P.P. (Goolagong), C. Sullivan (Bathurst), T. Eviston, P.P. (Gilgandra), G. O’Byrne (Gllgandra), M. Henry, P.P. (Blayney), T. Brosnan, P.P. (Molong), J. Cass (Bathurst) , T. Brady (Parkes) , D. O’Sullivan (Forbes) , and G. Maher (Forbes) , J. Morrison and F. Casey (Young), and Fr Gilbourne (Orange).
AN INTERESTING ASSEMBLY.
The assemblage, which overtaxed the seating accommodation and overflowed into the porches, presented a most interesting study. It would be difficult to conjure up another occasion which could draw together in one united body such a variety of personages from places so diverse and remote. The spirit of jubilation which prevailed on the opening of the long-desired Cowra Church coinciding with the actual completion of their beloved Parish Priest’s fiftieth year in their midst was contagious. It infected young and old, new arrivals, as well as the most ancient survivals, and parishioners who had long since lost all association with the social and business life of Cowra were moved by some strong affinity to arise and go to the House of their SpIritual Father. A casual glance, here and there, over the crowded pews picked out evidences of this wide representation. One noticed Jack Lynch from Canowindra, Tooheys from Eugowra. Eddy Martin from Orange, Grants from Merriganowry, Miss L. Fagan from Mandurama, W. C. Grauss Senr., from Woodstock, Mrs. Callachor and Miss Fanny Hart from Sydney, and a host of others who must. necessarily remain unmentioned; for those we do include are but a few taken at random, and indicative of a lasting loyalty engendered in ancient days and growing more gracious with advancing years. The Municipal Council had declared a holiday within its sphere of activity and. in grateful acknowledgment of the invaluable work of its oldest and most distinguished citizen, conferred the highest honour by representative participation that was within its power to bestow. The individual heads of the Professional, Industrial and Commercial life of Cowra whose personal regard for the integrity of the Archdeacon in business matters is of long standing, unmistakably showed their esteem for the person and character of the Jubilarian by granting a holiday to all their staff who desired to participate in the day’s celebrations. Such was the eager congregation that followed the hallowed ritual of Mother Church, sometimes with wonder and perhaps amazement, but always with reverence and admiration.
With the familiarity born of frequent participation in the ceremonial of thing divine, the Sacred Ministers re-enacted the sublime Mystery of the Mass. In subdued attitudes of profound reverence they passed into that solemn silence peculiar to the Consecration and Elevation. Then, like some far off echo of angelic hosts, the Choir began to render the heavenly meaning of “Panis Angelicus fit panis hominum,” softening to contemplate the august import of the second phrase, bursting forth in the wondering adoration of “0 Res Mirabilis” to recede again overpowered by the thought that the humblest servant may partake of his Lord.
MOST REV. DR. DUHIG’S ADDRESS.
When the Pontifical Mass had concluded, His Grace the Archbishop of Brisbane came forth to the Sanctuary Rails and began his occasional address with the sacred and impressive words-“How lovely are thy tabernacles, 0 Lord of Hosts. My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord.” (Ps. LXXXIII). “We have foregathed this morning,” said His Grace in the course of his address, “to mark the 50th anniversary of this important Parish of Cowra and to anticipate the Diamond Jubilee of the saintly and venerable Pastor by the dedication of this beautiful Church to the service of God. No more appropriate monument of your faith, and no more acceptable token of your gratitude to Divine Providence for the graces and blessing of the half-century, could be offered to God than this tabernacle that henceforth will be hallowed by His real presence and by the daily celebration of the Holy Mass. The new Church must be a joy to all and firstly to the Pastor who conceived it, and whose youth will be renewed in its atmosphere of joy and gladness. At the foot of this altar the words that he has been repeating morning by morning for 59 years will have a new and deeper meaning for him: – I will go unto the altar of God, to God Who giveth joy to my youth.’
“This beautiful temple must be a joy, and a great joy, to the people whose sacrifices have built it, for they love the God to whose honour it stands; a joy also to the children, for it reminds them of the Christ who loves them and of the Heaven to which they must aspire. It will help them to carry out that Injunction of Holy Writ. ‘Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth.’ And lastly to your beloved Bishop-the Chief Pastor of the flock-this handsome addition to the churches of the Diocese must be a special joy, for it is to him a new pledge of his people’s love for their Eucharistic Lord.
“The world builds its institutions of learning and commerce, and is applauded for spending millions on their construction and adornment.” continued His Grace. “Such buildings are good and necessary in their way, but they represent only earthly interests that fail to raise mind or soul beyond this present life. A church has a purpose as high above these as the heavens are above the earth. It is a House of. Prayer, raised for the glory of God and the cultivating of interests that are eternal. We have with the church sacred links that we cannot have with any other institution on earth. In the church at its baptismal fount we receive the light of faith; there we bear the word of God; there is set up the tribunal of His Mercy; there we assist at the holy sacrifice of the Mass and receive the bread of life; there, before the altar the young couple pledge each other lifelong fidelity in holy matrimony; there our dead are remembered and prayed for when the world has forgotten them.
“Over and above these wonderful privileges the church brings to us other blessings. There is no place that has happier memories for us than the house of Our Father, wherein we pray with our brethren in the happy family circle of the parish flock, and around which we have formed friendships that have stood the test of tlme. If tomorrow the church were closed or destroyed, as has been the case in so many countries where our religion has been persecuted, and you were told there was to be no more Sunday Mass, what an incomparable void it would make in your life; taking away the Mass from you would seem like taking the sun out of the heavens.
“To the excellent priest who has served this parish and the diocese of Bathurst for just on 60 years you owe a lasting debt of gratitude. Sixty years of service in the priesthood with its daily Masses and divine office and prayer and rounds of visits to the sick; 60 years of the care of the children and youth of the parish, with wise counsel given to young and old alike. How many has he regenerated at the baptismal fount and absolved in the tribunal of penance; to how many has the bread of life been broken every Sunday? How many couples have had their union blessed by his hands, and how many souls owe their happy entrance into eternity to his ministry? Only God’s recording angels can keep count of these things and of the countless acts of charity that have marked a life now drawing to a close. This beautiful church makes a fitting crown to the long life and labours of Archdeacon O’Kennedy in the priesthood. It is an expression of faith, love and gratitude, and in its beauty it typifies the heaven in which there awaits for your pastor a rich reward.”
THE ARCHDEACON RETURNS THANKS.
At the conclusion of his eloquent and inspiring sermon His Grace announced that the Jubiliarian, Archdeacon O’Kennedy, would say a few words. Although on leaving hls chair it was evident that the Venerable Old Man was very deeply affected, he, nevertheless, rose to the occasion. When confronting the huge audience he realised he had a duty to fulfil and to the delight of everybody he accomplished it in his own inimitable style.
“First of all,” he said, “I am grateful to the Archbishop of Brisbane for coming so far to do me honour; to Dr Fox of Wilcannia-Forbes for celebrating the Mass, and to Dr Henschke, who will later make the appeal (I will tell you what I think of him when I count the money). I am grateful for the assistance that our own Bishop has rendered at all times, and especially during the building of the new church. The full credit for the building of such a Church should be given to Dr Norton,” he continued, “for realising that I was getting old he took the whole matter into his own hands and gave it his personal supervision. I am grateful to the Clergy from far and near, and especially to my oId friend Father McNamara, Parish PrIest of North Parramatta. We were boys together, at school together; we have been friends for 70 years. And when I wanted advice or help of any kind he came to my assistance. I am grateful to the Brigidine Sisters, who have taken such care of the church for, in addition to their work of teaching in the schools, they have always loved the beauty of the Lord’s House. I am thankful to the Architects and the Builders. As regards the Architects, Messrs. Scott and Green, well- Mr. Scott I don’t know, but Mr. Green knew his job and did it well. The Builders were Wallace and McGee; well, Mr. Wallace, I don’t know anything about him, I never saw him, but Mr. McGee, I know: he is a little fellow but he is every inch a man, and he Iis an honest man. Now, as regards my old friends, Catholic and non-Catholic, I am grateful to you all and I pray that God may bless you all and I will never forget you as long as I live.”
MOST REV. DR NORTON. WELCOMES VISITORS.
When the Archdeacon retired His Lordship Most Rev. Dr Norton, descended from his throne and expressed his personal gratitude In the first place to the Archbishop of Brisbane. Continuing, His Lordship said ;
“By common consent, the Archbishop of Brisbane is looked on as one of our greatest Churchmen, but his presence here to-day proves him to be great of heart as well. Who but a great-hearted man would have offered to come all the way from Brisbane to add, by his memorable sermon, the final touch of distinction to this great day. You will realise the full extent of our common indebtedness to the Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes and the Auxiliary Bishop of Wagga Wagga when I tell you that they have both travelled all night from Sydney-the one to be the celebrant of the High Mass, and the other to make an appeal to your generosity. I offer all these illustrious members of the Hierarchy a heartfelt welcome. Then there are many priests from the neighbouring dioceses and our own, who have come, as they often came before, knowing that the door of the presbytery on the hill is as wide open to receive them as is the heart of its pastor. There are lay-folk from various parishes. They, too, are very welcome. Amongst them are Mr. E. Green, the Architect, and Mr. P. McPhee, the Builder, who in carrying out their respective responsibilities gave us complete satisfaction. I feel sure that all are fully rewarded, not even excluding His Grace the Archbishop, in knowing that they have gladdened the heart of an old Priest and crowded with joy this, the greatest day in his life, and that of the parish which he has made.”
A financial statement was then read in which It was revealed that since 1934, when the Building Fund Appeal was first launched £7,901 had been raised, of which amount, outright donations had totalled £3,902, functions £2,941, monthly collection £1,224, miscellaneous income from sale of property, etc., £734. The total cost of the Church would be in the vicinity of £15,867, which meant that a debt of £7,966 remained to be reckoned with.
This balance sheet is now very much out of date as notable changes on the estimates of the prime cost items have reduced the total cost of the Church while the Building Fund has been considerably increased through generous donations sent. in by loyal friends of the Archdeacon, as well as through response to the appeal so ably made by Most Rev. Dr. Henscke, supported by Monsignor Flanagan. Whilst these distinguished dignitaries were bringing before the minds of their audience the temporal interests involved In the erection of such a splendid building, under the leadership of James O’Sullivan an energetic body of men who had until then acted as efficient ushers and attendants automatically converted themselves into a company of collectors and, assisted by ten priests, took up the offerings or wrote down the promises which were then made. Donations received in answer to invitations issued, together with offerings made in the Church and those promises which Catholic Cowra is proud to know have almost completely been redeemed, amounted to the magnificent sum of over £1,100, thus bringing the Church Building Fund to about £8,375, whilst to-day the total cost of the New Church with furnishings and accessories can be put down in round figures as £15,500.
It was on this note of generous and loyal support that the morning’s ceremony was brought to a conclusion. But long after the Church had been emptied groups of people stood around the exits discussing the great Ceremony of the day. Very soon the Hierarchy and Clergy were directed to the Convent for there had been prepared by the good Brlgidine Sisters a sumptuous and appetising luncheon. The country people from within the Parish and its surroundings had
helped in a Iarge-hearted manner to make it a Feast Day worthy of the occasion. At five o’clock in the evening, in the presence of another large and representative congregation, Solemn Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament was celebrated by Most Rev. Dr. Norton; Father A. Maher (Dunedoo) was deacon, and Father P. O’Doherty (West Wyalong) was sub-deacon. Father Masterson carried out the duties of master of ceremonies, whilst the Choir at the conclusion of the Ceremony sang the Church’s great hymn of praise and thanksgiving; “Te Deum Laudamus.”
THE JUBILEE BALL.
A grand jubilee ball, held at night, formed a fitting finale to the memorable occasion. The hall was officially declared open by Archbishop Duhig, who also received the nine white-clad debutantes presented by the Mayoress, Mrs. Whitby. Over 400 dancers thronged the hall. Although not lavish, the decorations were effective. In golden letters over the stage appeared the figures and words 1880—St. Raphael’s Golden Jubilee-1939.” Surmounting this were the words of the Gaelic welcome, “Cead MiIle FaiIthe,” which had also been suspended over the southern side of the church for the opening ceremony. To the organising ability of Mesdames M. P. Farrar and T. P. Mahon (joint secretaries) much of the success of this outstanding function was due. The secretaries were well supported by an energetic and willing band of co-workers, whilst Mr T. Maher assisted by G. Clarke ably fulfilled the office of M.C.
In a short speech, the Mayor expressed pleasure in·welcoming Archbishop Duhig to Cowra, and also paid a gracious tribute to Dr Norton. He said he could not let the occasion pass without referring to Ven. Archdeacon O’Kennedy. He had laboured in Cowra for over 50 years. It was a wonderful record for this fine old gentleman, and he deserved warm congratulations on the great work he had done.
In an address in which he officially opened the ball, Archbishop Duhig said he was delighted to find himself in so progressive and happy a town as Cowra. He had come 700 miles to be present at the day’s ceremonies and functions. It was his longest excursion into this state, but he had been very well repaid.
Referring to Archdeacon O’Kennedy, Archbishop Duhig said that he had fostered good feeling in his own flock, and also amongst people of other churches, and in doing so he had captured the admiration and respect of these people. In engendering this good feeling, the Archdeacon was doing a great work for the good of the Commonwealth of Australia.
A glorious chapter in Catholic Cowra’s modern history shall now close. It was indeed for the good of the people of Australia, for the greater honour and glory of God in the salvation of their souls that Denis O’Kennedy elected so many years ago to spend himself and be spent for Christ. He had known the original bishops of Brisbane and Bathurst and loved them as he loves their successors, respected Fathers in the Household of the Faith. For these members of the Hierarchy past and present, Archdeacon O’Kennedy in his eighty- third year forms a well forged link. He stoops back over the decades to where Archpriest Therry had bowed forward and across a century of Australia’s religious history these spiritual giants of such similar character and temperament clasp hands in everlasting victory.
“They have built a lasting house, for God was with them,
All who would thwart them ‘On the ground are strewn;
They stand to guard a century’s sacred temple,
As solid as the rock from whence ’twas hewn.”
Archdeacon O’Kennedy celebrated his Golden Jubilee on 4th June, 1930, when he received the distinguished title of Archdeacon, by which we now designate him. This year he was honoured as a jubilarian among the ranks of Parish Priests. This is a much rarer occasion than the former one. But next year, we trust. he will solemnise his Diamond Jubilee as a Priest of God and this shall certainly entitle him to a place among the immortals.
With a firm confidence in God and a faithful and generous correspondence with His grace, he has gone forward through life maintaining the rights of justice and truth. He has borne himself erect in the face of this world, his passionate voice has lent force to his clear and candid words. Endowed with a will disposed to everything that is good and with a generous and extremely sensitive heart he has given of all that he has ever possessed. No man will be enriched by the worldly goods that he bequeaths, but the thousands to whom he gave eternal life will be his wealth and claim to glory. Not to mere tablet or elevated stone will his life-work be relegated, but in the living faith of his people worshipping in a noble house of God it will find perpetual expression.