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Farewell to the Muttaburra Church

23 February, 2023
Margaret and Pearl

On Sunday 29th January parishioners and friends gathered with Bishop Michael and Fr Shaiju Lookose to celebrate Mass for the final time at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Muttaburra.  The mood was reflective, as people remembered times past at the Church, and other places and times in their faith journey.  The local QCWA hosted a lovely morning tea afterwards, allowing the memories to continue flowing in air-conditioned comfort.

The history of the Catholic Church in Muttaburra is a long and at times difficult one.  In 1877 (before the Diocese of Rockhampton existed!) Fr James Cumberford was appointed to be in charge of the Western District – travelling on his faithful horse from Westwood out to Arrilah, and up to Hughenden in the North. Administratively, Muttaburra was part of the Barcaldine Parish established in 1888, before joining the Longreach Parish when it was established in 1893.  Then in 1934 it passed back to the Barcaldine Parish, which likely necessitated the change of name from St John’s to St Joseph’s.  In 1950 Muttaburra and Aramac formed their own Parish.

The 9th of July 1882 marks the first recorded Catholic marriage, officiated by Fr Cumberford at the Muttaburra Court House.  Religious services were held at the Court House until 1894, when on the 2nd September the first Catholic Church was officially opened by Fr Hanley, the first Parish Priest of Longreach.  On the afternoon of the 20th of January 1943 a fierce storm hit Muttaburra, throwing the Catholic Church off its stumps and destroying it.  There are reports of over 3” (75mm) of rain falling within 30 minutes, and large hail to accompany the wild winds and driving rain.  Once repaired, the RSL Memorial Hall gave the Catholic Church free use of their building once a month for Church services until completion of the current Church building in September 1948.  It is hoped that this building will continue to be a place of life and love, providing a much needed home or other suitable use for someone in the township.