St. Matthew’s Parish Narrogin, is situated in the central wheat belt of WA. The following are significant events in its history.
November 1907: Laying of foundation stone of original church during the time of Fr Phelan.
December 1917: Visit by Superiors of the Congregation of Our Lady of the Missions to plan the foundation of the convent. Both these events were integral to the development of the parish.
1918: Arrival of five teaching Sisters led by Mother M. St. Judith.
1923: Archbishop Clune blessed a new presbytery, additions to the church and the first two brick classrooms of the Sacred Heart Convent School. Despite the hard times of the 20’s and 30’s the parish progressed.
1919: Two storey convent building (now owned by TAFE) was erected.
1938: Fr Callaghan had a new altar erected and stained glass windows inserted in the church.
1942: The convent boarders included children evacuated from Fremantle.
1941-43: Under Fr Russell, faith development strengthened with the creation of the Sacred Heart Sodality in 1941 and the Holy Name Society in 1943.
1950s: A dramatic change occurred in the Narrogin Parish with the arrival of many Polish and other European migrants. These families brought a new and vibrant dimension to the practice of the faith, especially with their singing and national costumes.
1957: It was shortly after the arrival of much loved Fr Downey that the Golden Jubilee celebrations took place.
1958: The Wells Organisation ran and parish fundraising program, and after the campaign launch at a loyalty dinner, sufficient funds were pledged for additional classrooms, a car for the motor mission sisters and a new church building.
1964: The new church building was consecrated in June.
1968: A Parish Council was formed.
1972: The new presbytery was blessed in March.
1980s and early 90s: Introduction of Renewal of Faith under the direction of Fr Kevin Johnston.
1980s & 90s: The parish continues to evolve under Frs Johnson, Kelly and Slattery. The recently built parish centre provides a welcome venue for parish functions and the wider community. Christian care flourishes in the work of long established groups such as St Vincent de Paul and of the recently created Ministers of the Care and Matthewcare.
The prayer group introduced Norma Woodcock, whose faith gatherings have led to ecumenical developments with other denominations. Above all, there appears today to be much greater involvement by the parish in the faith journey of the children through programs such as children’s Liturgy, Saints Club and YCS. Sadly, the OLM Sisters ended their 80 year association with the parish in January 1998. The parish remembers with deep appreciation sisters Isobel and Margaret and their dedication to the children, to pastoral care and to ecumenical outreach. In January 1998, at the invitation of Fr Michael Slattery, St. Matthew’s welcomed the Indian Servite sisters Nirmala and Zita. Sr Sahaya arrived later that same year. Their contribution to St. Matthew’s and the community of Narrogin has been invaluable.
In the late 1990s the responsibility of the Parish Priest extended to the parishes of Wagin and Dumbleyung. This has necessitated more involvement from all members of the parish community. The St. Vincent de Paul Society has provided a transport roster for the priest on Saturday events to Wagin.
St. Matthew’s Parish
The Jubilee banner patch for St. Matthew’s Parish, Narrogin was designed and created by Brenda Shooter, Evelyn White, Elena Andretta and Jenny Harrington.
The intention was to depict important symbols relating to local and church history.
At the base of the patch the railway track alludes to the beginning of Narrogin when construction of the railway line between Beverley and Albany in 1888 led to the development of the town and surrounding area. The sheep and wheat in the side panels represent the strong farming interests of the district. During the past century and especially after World War II, many migrants have settled in Narrogin. The linked figures, in the colours of the Olympic rings, symbolize the integration of people who have come to live here from so many countries.
The first of the Catholic images on the banner is that of the distinctive triple-arch façade of the new church, which was erected on the site of the original building in 1964. Above the arches, in shadow outline, are the fires of the five sisters from the Congregation of Our Lady of the Missions who began the Catholic school in Narrogin in 1918. And central to all the images of our district and our church are the Chalice and the Host, the focus of our Catholic faith.