The recent parish mission to Mt Magnet has been a most successful form of outreach for the parish both in terms of the support provided to that community as well as the community spirit engendered by the venture within those who travelled and those who supported the trip financially and with other resources. A total of 22 people travelled to Mt Magnet, including the Bertola, Italiano and Starr families, Marek & Krystyna Golinski, Nick & Damian Maher and Fr Michael.

The first stop for the families was at New Norcia on Sunday where we were hosted by the Benedictine Community and accommodated in the former convent building which proved to be a fantastic stop-over for us all. As well as seeing some of the town, we participated in Vespers in the Abbey Church, shared a dinner afterwards with Fr John Herbert and were taken on a tour through St Gertrude’s and the New Norcia library – which was a fascinating experience looking through their ancient books, one dating from the early 1500’s, just a few years after the Guttenberg Press was invented!

An early departure ensued on Monday and we arrived in Mt Magnet at about 1.30pm where a welcoming committee of local parishioners were pleased to see us. Sisters Gerri and Maree had requested help to renovate the church pews, to release the church windows which had been painted shut and to re-hang the crucifix in the Sanctuary. We quickly set about making a start on the pews, which proved a somewhat tedious task initially with years of accumulated grime being physically scraped off by hand with chisels.

Accommodation for the majority of us was at Boogardie Station, owned by the Jones family since 1883. The shearing quarters had a real outback feel to them which some of the children took a bit of getting used to – particularly the swallows which nested throughout the sleeping quarters.

Tuesday was a full day of work although with some pooled chemistry knowledge a much more efficient manner of cleaning the pews was devised. Cloudy ammonia turned the grime on the pews to a soapy solution which was then easily removed with wet sponges. This discovery improved our rate of progress, although with the supply of cloudy ammonia in the whole of Mt Magnet limited to 3 bottles, we would be somewhat constrained in the number of pews that we could get through. The children provided occasional support with cleaning and sanding back the pews, but their major focus was the production of a large banner which was to be donated to the Mt Magnet Church. Prior to leaving Dardanup, Leanne Depiazzi had put together the basic outline of material across the banner while Kirsten and Sarah provided a lot of patient guidance to the children to help decorate it with
painted hand prints and embroidered wild flowers. It was finished just in time for the Mass celebrated
on Wednesday.

Tuesday evening was a very jovial night back at Boogardie Station with a shared BBQ dinner and folksongs afterwards very ably led by Nick, Damian and Gabrielle. Wednesday saw a concerted effortto complete the varnishing of the cleaned and sanded pews, with about eight being completed – they came up a treat. Most of the church windows were unstuck- a very welcome relief for the summer months, and the crucifix was put back in the Sanctuary.

A Mass was celebrated at midday with a number of local parishioners attending, and who were impressed with what had been achieved in the church over the past couple of days. A lunch followed which helped foster further links between the two communities. Some of the local kids had not seen so many children attending Mass in their parish before. Ostrich eggs from Tony & Julie Van- derloop were presented to the Mt Magnet community during Mass as a gift from our community. We later on received two emu eggs in exchange – perhaps symbolic of a long and productive relationship between the two parishes.

An earlier finish to work on Wednesday enabled us to take advantage of a tour of the attractions of Boogardie Station with the Jones family taking us out to a see a wedgetail eagle nest complete with resident chick, and then further on to Warroan Rock where we climbed the rock for a spectacular view of the surrounds followed by a bonfire and bush BBQ afterwards.

Thursday saw everyone packing for an early departure, although Marek& Krystyna were determined to finish applying the last coat of varnish to the pews, which they did with assistance from the Bertolas. By lunchtime, all that we had started had been completed. There were several pews remaining still needing to be renovated – perhaps during a trip next year, but in the main, the parish had sufficient finished pews to cater for their congregation.

On behalf of those who travelled, we would like to thank everyone in the parish who has supported this venture with donations of funds to cover fuel, loans of tools and other equipment and also to Brian Wells who prefabricated dressed jarrah supports which were fixed to the pews to restore their rigidity.

Our thanks too to Sisters Gerri and Maree who couldn’t do enough for us while we were in Mt Magnet, to the Jones family for their generous hospitality at Boogardie and to Fr John Herbert and the Benedictine Community who accommodated us during this trip as well as the earlier reconnaissance visit. Thanks also to Fr Michael for his enthusiastic support and continued encouragement of those making this mission.

From the travelling parishioners.
October 2008