Lake Grace

The town takes its name from the nearby lake named after the wife of the then Surveyor-General, F.S. Brockman. The town is over 300 kms east of Bunbury and is the centre of a wheat and sheep farming area. The parish encompasses a large area with Mass centres from Kukerin to the West with its Church of St. Thomas Becket to Hopetoun in the East with its Church of St. Peter the fisherman. The church in Lake Grace is under the patronage of St. Maria Regina. The Catholic community in the Lake Grace district was served from Wagin until March 1957. Father Moloney visited the district on his motor cycle in the year 1912, which was probably the best means of transport at that time. His successors in Wagin served the area at regular though rare intervals. Except for sick calls the district was visited about twice yearly until the 1930s. From then until after the Second World War it received a visit every three months. Mass was celebrated in the public hall and the priest went on from Lake Grace to the other centres east. This was the regular pattern of the life of a country priest in many districts in those days. He left his presbytery on Sunday and did not get back home again for perhaps a fortnight. As the years went by the Catholic community grew in numbers and looking back one must admire the zeal and the devotion to duty of the priests who served this district. Eventually Mass was celebrated once per month, then fortnightly and, after 1953, every week. The need of a church in the district was obvious to both priest and people and the Rev. J. J. O’Mahony took the work in hand. On 31.7.1955 Maria Regina Church was opened and blessed by his Lordship, the Bishop of Bunbury, Most Rev. L.J. Goody. Incidentally on the same day St. Thomas of Canterbury Church in Kukerin was also opened and blessed. Both churches were built to accommodate 150 people in comfort, but one wonders if they will be adequate in another decade. It was now only a matter of time until his Lordship made a new parish east of Wagin. The obvious centre of the new parish was Lake Grace. It was still very large in area but this thriving town was a convenient centre, so in March 1957, Fr Fitzgerald was appointed as the first Parish Priest. The Catholic Presbytery was acquired in 1960. It was formerly the home of Mr & Mrs L.K. Joy.

Pingaring Centre
In the early forties when there were no priests in the Lake grace area, Father O’Mahony traveled to a few of the outlying centres once or twice a year to say Mass. Mr Bill O’Neill and his mother made Father very welcome in their home and he invited his extended family to join them for services. These gatherings, when they shared a meal and fellowship after the Mass became a regular feature twice a month after Fr Michael Fitzgerald was posted to Lake Grace as the Resident Priest. The O’Neill home then established as the Pingaring Mass Centre. This situation continued very successfully until 1993 when Bill O’Neill passed away and as the numbers had declined it was decided that the Pingaring people would travel to Lake Grace for their Mass services.

There was wonderful faith in the small centres in the earliest years with the simple life and once a year church. Out of these families came nuns and priests. There was no church as such in Ravensthorpe, Mass was held in a very small building opposite the Church of England and it held about 20 people. The mines of Raventhorpe were working and lots of Italian people were there. It seems that Fr O’Mahoney was the priest in the 1950s who came all the way from Wagin to hold Mass. Then there was Fr Fitzgerald, Fr Cryan, Fr Johnson and Fr Crocetti. The priests used to board with the family of Chedwiddens who lived out near the mines. When the mine closed, the church relied on a floating population. There were new land farmers struggling to clear their blocks and had no money. Later the Motor Mission Sisters came to the school and took the children outside for religious instruction, left correspondence leaflets for the parents to do with their children at home. Highlights for the kids was the bushy camp at Hopetoun. When in the area the nuns used to stay overnight with families and formed wonderful lasting friendships. There was great excitement when the Hopetoun church was built. Fr Russell was very thoughtful when he came to visit the people on the farms as he collected the mail and brought plaited break from Lake Grace Bakery. The farmers were very isolated, no phones in the beginning and no money for unnecessary trips.

Under Fr Penberthy’s guidance, little centres became one family. They now had phones and were encouraged to ring around to keep in touch, to give prayer support and support in a crisis. Through this, each family came to know others further out. Mrs Edit Congrene was on the receiving end of this love and prayer when she became very sick overseas in Ireland. The family rang the parish representative of Ravensthorpe and from there each person rang the next until the whole parish was praying for her. That was a highlight in her faith and she got better! Now in 1998 we have finally got a church in Ravensthorpe

Hopetun Memories
As teenagers and young men and women I remember Fr Leon Russell Loved Hopetoun. He could see its potential for the people of his parish, who he also loved. We spent many happy times in Hopetoun with Fr Leon either painting, washing curtains, plumbing, fishing, snorkeling, swimming, building a church, bush driving, exploring etc. etc. The whole scattered parish was brought together and we all got to know each other by working on this project. As many hearts make a home, so many hands built this Church of Peter the Fisherman – Hopetoun.

This is a very hard ask as many many people have contributed in no small way to the building up of our church here in Lake Grace. It has been told to me that as far back as early 1930s Howard Trevenen, as secretary for the Lake Grace area (which was then part of Wagin Parish) fund raised every year by organizing a Bachelors and Spinsters Ball. This provided the means to purchase the two blocks on which the church now stands. The tradition of the Annual Catholic Ball in one form or another survived and continued to raise money for the needs of the church for another 40 or so years. Our present faith family owes a debt of gratitude to our forebears whose faith they handed down to us. Some still in our community are descendents of: Ted & Win Naisbitt, Mollie Nolan, Tess & Phil McGlinn, Edith & Phil Trevenen, Esther & Jim O’Neill.

1955 Lake Grace became a parish led by Fr Michael Fitzgerald, a deeply spiritual man. Many priests came and served our parish over the years.Fr M. Fitzgerald April 1957 – April 1959, Fr T. O’Neill May 1959, Fr E. Kenny June 1959 – April 1960, Fr M. Fitzgerald May 1960 – September 1962, Fr H.J. Kelly October 1962 – February 1963, Fr P. Cryan February 1966 – April 1966, Fr M. Naisbitt December 1966, Fr P. Cryan January 1967 – May 1967, Fr M. Naisbitt October 1967, Fr P. Cryan October 1967 – May 1968, Fr G. Crocetti May 1968 – November 1972, Fr L. Russell December 1972 – December 1976, Fr H. Galloway March 1977, Fr Evan Penberthy, Fr Andrew Pyka SDS, Fr Doug Conlan, Fr Ian Johnson, Fr Emil Ceirceirega SDS – September 1997, Fr Mirek Redwanz SDS (relieving for 3 months), Fr Boguslaw Loska SDS September 1997 – December 1997, Fr Henry Rodrigues February 1998 – August 1998, Fr Bernie Dwyer September 1998, & Fr Noel FitzSimons.

Patch Story
The Road – symbolizes the many kilometers our Parish consists of and the ten centres within these 260kms from
Kukerin through to Hopetoun. It also symbolizes the commitment needed by our Priests, Religious and Laity in
living out our faith for others and ourselves.

Chalices and Hosts
Symbolizes each of our Parish centres and the location of each.

Church in Foreground
Symbolizes St. Thomas A’Beckett Church in Kukerin where our parish begins.

Cross at End of Road
Symbolizes St. Peter the Fisherman’s Church at Hopetoun with the blue symbolizing the beautiful ocean.

Green Background, Wheat and Sheep
Symbolizes the main industry within our Parish and community as a whole.

Blue Patches
Symbolizes the many lakes within this region hence the name of Lake Grace.

Designed by
Margaret Carruthers, Anne Slarke, Genevieve Curtin & Lee-Anne Trevenen. Made by Lee-Anne Trevenen.