History of St Columba’s Catholic Church Wilston
The land upon which St Columba’s Church stands was first surveyed in 1858, as a 27-acre parcel of farmland (S151850). This lot was further subdivided in 1885 (RP19925), 1886 (RP19933), 1889 (RP19934) and 1892 (RP19929) into three-acre, two-acre, one-acre and quarter-acre lots for closer settlement.
In January 1914, Archbishop Duhig purchased the first two one-acre blocks for the building of the church. By the end of June 1914, the Archbishop had acquired five parcels of land with an aggregate area of 6 acres 1 rood and 11 perches. This is basically the land on which the Church, Presbytery and Primary School stand.
In 1916 the Archbishop purchased an additional lot in Lovedale Street. This was the land for the Convent. In 1961 further blocks were purchased in Lovedale Street for the purpose of building the Girls’ High School, which is now the Bernard O’Shea Centre. All the parcels of land owned by the church were amalgamated into a single parcel of land in 1979, (Lot 1 on RP168492) having an area of 3.53ha.
There was considerable discussion about the type of Church that should be built on this land. On Sunday, 10 May 1914, a meeting of the Catholics in the district was held at Mr Hurley’s house. Archbishop Duhig presided and it was unanimously resolved to erect a brick Church rather than a timber structure.
Archbishop Duhig commissioned architect Mr GHM. Addison to prepare plans for the Church. Aware of the obvious cost limitations, the Archbishop asked Mr Addison to suggest a way of building the Church while keeping to a budget. Accordingly, when he forwarded his plans to the Archbishop, Addison made recommendations, writing:
Your Grace, Herewith I send sketch plans of proposed Church at Wilston. I suggest that the portion of the west end of the nave with its aisle be built first without the narthex, baptistery or tower, and that the sanctuary be built in a temporary form to be removed when the Church is enlarged. I suggest the west portion being built first as not have the diagonal principals as preparation for the transepts which are an expensive item.
The Archbishop evidently took Addison’s advice. The original construction of the Church consisted of only the central body of the Church without the transepts, altar or sacristy. Addison was paid a sum of £143/8/1 for his architectural services.
On 23 August 1914, the foundation stone of the Church was laid by Archbishop Duhig (then the Coadjutor Archbishop of Brisbane) accompanied by Dr Daniel Mannix (Coadjutor Archbishop of Melbourne). Construction must have proceeded at a great rate as the Church was completed, and the first Mass held just over four months later on 3 January 1915. The Church was built by David W Tipler for the princely sum of £2,094.
St Columba’s Church shortly after construction c.1914 (BCC).
In December 1914, a Mr Carroll furnished Archbishop Duhig with a costing on the cleaning, staining and varnishing of 28 old seats and 10 new seats, and the cleaning and varnishing of the communion railing. As well, the main altar and the three side altars were cleaned and painted. The mouldings and carved portions of pillars and the central panel of the main altar, including the entwined monogram ‘IHS’, were gilded in ‘best gold leaf’. The total cost of this work was £39.
The Wilston congregation grew rapidly. The Catholic Leader (12 March 1936) reported:
St Columba’s schoolroom at Wilston is crowded with the parishioners after the evening devotions on Sunday last, when a meeting was held for the purpose of launching a movement for the completion of the parish Church. The Rev. Father Burton, Parish Priest tendered a hearty welcome to His Grace the Archbishop, and requested him to preside over the meeting. He explained what had already been done in way of setting the movement in motion and read apologies from parishioners who could not be present, but whose sympathy was expressed in the substantial donation which they forwarded with the apologies.
Father Burton went on to say that the necessity for more accommodation in the Church was evident to everyone attending Sunday Mass there. Not only was the body of the Church crowded at the early Mass, but the choir, gallery and sacristies were filled with people, and some, through being unable to gain admission, were obliged to hear Mass outside the doors. He was extremely pleased that, when he had explained the position to the Archbishop, His Grace not only approved of their undertaking the work, but offered to come and preside at their first meeting. In fulfilment of that promise he was there that evening, and they would not only have the pleasure of hearing his words of wise direction but of getting his personal blessing on themselves and the work before them.
The parishioners had been fundraising for some time for the Church extensions. These activities included stalls, bridge evenings and dances, as well as donations in various forms.
On 9 March 1936, the Archbishop commissioned Mr Frank Cullen to prepare plans for the completion of the Church. Archbishop Duhig laid the foundation stone for the Church extensions (transepts and sanctuary) on 21 June 1936. The builder was Mr F Cunningham. On Sunday 6 December 1936, the Archbishop opened and blessed the Church extensions. The following day, The Courier Mail reported:
The extensions to St Columba’s Church, Wilston, which have added considerably to the building’s size and beauty, and which have approximately doubled the seating accommodation by Archbishop Duhig.
He recalled that in 1912, when he came to Rockhampton as Coadjutor to the late Archbishop Dunne, Wilston was the first district in which he desired to build a Church for the people. Wilston in those days was practically a wilderness as far as population was concerned, but anyone with any vision for the future could see then what the suburb would be in 10 or 20 years’ time. He had decided that Wilston should have a brick Church. The original building had cost £2056, and with the present extensions the Church would cost well under £7000, which made it the best value that the diocese had ever got. The land extended over eight acres, and his Grace hoped that later it would have a Christian Brothers’ College.
The building of the church was not the only project being undertaken on the site. In January 1917, Archbishop Duhig opened both the Primary School and the Convent, and also blessed the new Presbytery in May 1921.
Kedron Brook Catholic Community
23 Lovedale Street, Wilston QLD
Good Samaritan Parish
170 Kedron Brook Road, Wilston (enter via 23 Lovedale St)
115 Beaconsfield Terrace, Gordon Park
St John the Baptist Parish
St John the Baptist
133 South Pine Road, Enoggera
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
18 Halle Street, Everton Park