On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 1998, Bishop Brennan formally declared Thurgoona a Parish in honour of the “Immaculate Heart of Mary”, entrusting Fr John Fowles ccs with the duty of Parish Priest.
In the midst of the gum trees, the first Mass was celebrated on 8 December 1998 when over 350 people endured the 40 degree heat, a small test of endurance for what was ahead. Progress came with the construction of a shed, where Mass was celebrated on the site where the Church now stands.
Our Parish fundraiser, the “Highway to Heaven” gave us the means to establish the Parish complex as seen today. Also for 10 years our Parish conducted an annual ball which joyfully united the community.
The efforts were abundantly blessed through the daily recitation of a novena in honour of the Infant of Prague which continues to this day.
With rammed earth and recycled materials, our Parish complex was built with a unique touch that strikes people with it’s simply beauty.
Trusses came from the old Mt Beauty Hospital and wood from this source was used to make the doors and window frames which were lovingly restored under the guidance of Fr John Fowles, Fr Joel Wallace,and their helpers known as the “Workers of St Joseph”.
On 8 September 2003 with the Parish complex complete, Bishop Gerard Hanna officiated at the Consecration of the “Immaculate Heart of Mary” Church which overflowed with people who rejoiced at the completion of this extraordinary work of faith. Today, we see our Parish growing with young families. The Marian Centre holds programs for all ages and the Legion of Mary Praesidiums are committed to a wide variety of voluntary works underpinning our Parish with a distinct Marian identity.
Our gratitude naturally demanded expression and the decision to hand on the blessings received gave birth to the Fly-Away-To-Heaven project for the people of East Timor. This project would challenge our faith and test the virtue of charity. Providence provided us with an aircraft kit which after three years in the Parish hangar took to the skies.
What followed left us all in awe, as we flew “on the wings of a prayer” in an appeal for the poor. As our theme song expresses it so aptly “the gift of giving, they say it’s lost its way, but I’m a believer no matter what they say!”.
During May 2008, 12 planes circumnavigated Australia not only raising funds for East Timor but also raising awareness of World Youth Day. Ten young East Timorese attended WYD as a result of the Fly-A-Thon. FATH extended support to our Timorese mission through the provision of:
- generators and computers;
- scholarships and education funding;
- nutrition, health and hygiene programs
- agricultural equipment; and
- refurbishing of orphanage and school facilities
Just as we “flew into the wind” for the poor, we recognise clearly that the greatest challenges that face our community of faith are the winds of indifference and unbelief.
We welcome you to join us in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, as we journey together as a family striving for a new evangelisation in the Holy Spirit which is simply making known the Good News of God’s love for us all. Confidently we look to the future knowing that God will gather his people and Our Blessed Mother will protect us under her Mantle.