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History of St Vincent de Paul, Emu Park

13 July, 2022

At the end of the World War l a St Vincent de Paul conference was formed in Emu Park. Due to the era, only men were able to join. In 1933 the conference folded due to the depression and lack of manpower, most of the work force was on relief work associated with the war. In 1939 conferences folded in all regions, including Yeppoon – this was to allow members to join the forces (World War ll).

By 1957 Yeppoon had started a conference with its first shop opening. Emu Park, as a smaller community, was able to provide assistance from Rockhampton (purchasing goods locally).

In 1967 Dr Grove Johnson, Parish Priest, permitted for women to become members, this greatly improved the ability of the Capricorn Coast groups.

In 1984 a group of interested parishioners from Mary Immaculate Church, Emu Park held a meeting at the home of Herman and Julie Hock in Zilzie and a new conference was formed with the title of Mary Immaculate Conference. Members being:

President Brother Ted Ellaway

Vice President Brother Tom Smithwick

Secretary Sister Annette Van Gestel

Treasurer Brother Joe Guest

Members Sisters Joan Ellaway, Adrianna Davey, Julie Hock, Pat Tickner

Brothers Len Walling, Herman Hock

The Yeppoon Conference would deliver supplies of clothing and food goods on a weekly basis, the need for a shop at Emu Park was high and in 1985 a shop opened at Seaside Plaza in Granville Street. Maryanne Wadsworth was the store manageress. In 1986 Dalma Kelly became the new manageress. In 1991 the store relocated to a larger shop in the same complex.

In early 1988 Regional Council purchased a ute and trailer for use by the Mary Immaculate Conference – this provided ease with delivery of goods and cardboard collection. During this period the members provided assistance with not only that stated previously, they assisted with provision of religious education at two state schools, church grounds maintenance and cleaning, home and hospital visitations.

Both groups from the Capricorn Coast (Yeppoon and Emu Park) combined to also provide goods delivery and assistance to remote communities of Duaringa, Dingo and surrounding areas (approximately three times per year).

Another service provided during this period was to housebound and lonely residents. The ladies would collect hot meals three times per week from the Pine Beach Hotel, Emu Park and deliver to those in need. The meals were $3.50. Some of the localities serviced were Cawarral, Keppel Sands, The Causeway and Coowonga, along with Zilzie and Emu Park.

Joan Ellaway recalls her and Pat Tickner delivering to one person who lived at Zilzie, along the foreshore, having to drive along the beach and return at low tide (Reef Street was not yet formed).

All of these activities led to the need to create a formal Care and Concern Group, initially formed in Emu Park under the guidance of the Mary Immaculate Conference. The Care and Concern group continues today under the direction of the Capricorn Coast Parish.

During the period of the mid to late 1990’s meetings were held around the Ellaway family dining table in Crane Street. Father Noel Milner was the spiritual adviser in attendance. Meetings moved to the old Catholic Church Hall in Archer Street – this is also where cases were interviewed and supplied from. There was an account at the local store for vegetables and the bulk of groceries were purchased from Rockhampton, while bread was donated from Pat at the Emu Park Bakery.

In 1992 Father Noel Milner commissioned for parishioners to take Blessed Holy Communion to the housebound. St Vincent de Paul members took on this responsibility covering all localities in their area (as stated above).

In June 2002 after a heavy downpour of rain, the decision was made to relocate the shop to Hill Street – it was officially opened in October 2002 by Father Bryan Hannifan.

During the early days from the 1980’s many parishioners came forward to offer assistance and support to the members and the wider community. Some of the notable names are: Pat Datris, Josey Burns, Robyn Wenman, Alex and Doreen Quinn, Margaret Eggins, Pat and Brian Dunn,Joy Brady, Brian and Margaret O’Brien, Mrs Montgomery.

The success of the Mary Immaculate Conference Group was due largely to the dedication of the volunteers and their genuine commitment to wanting to assist others. From humble beginnings to the present day, the need for support services on the Capricorn Coast continues. Many of the names mentioned above are now deceased, the value they provided to the conference should never be undervalued as it has shaped where we are today.

Joan Ellaway, St Vincent de Paul Member since 1984.