ST MONICA’S Church at Kyabram West was the first Catholic Church and school building within the Kyabram parish boundaries in the area. Mr John Meehan, the original owner of the Kyabram West Hotel (then known as Meehan’s Kyabram Hotel), donated 0.8 hectares of land on the eastern side of his hotel property to erect the church.
St Monica’s was officially opened by the Most Rev Martin Crane OSA on May 12, 1878. He was escorted the last few kilometres to the newly erected church by 80 Catholics on horseback who had assembled on the Echuca road. Each person was wearing their Sunday best with a green rosette. On arrival the congregation joined in three times three cheers for the Most Rev Bishop Crane OSA.
Twenty-six children attended the school at St Monica’s when it opened in 1878.
St Monica’s weatherboard church was enlarged not long before it was destroyed by fire on New Year’s Day in 1909. The fire was noticed not long after the completion of the 11am Mass. It was insured for £500.
A plaque was erected on the original site at Kyabram West on November 4, 2007 by the Tongala Local and Family History Group in conjunction with the Shire of Campaspe.
A writing team has been working for over four years compiling the book Kyabram Catholic Heritage: Ever ancient, ever new, which covers 140 years of Catholic history in the area since St Monica’s church was opened in Kyabram West in 1878. The book will be launched on Sunday, May 13 at St Augustine’s Church Kyabram.
■Compiled by Eileen Sullivan, Kyabram Historical Society voluntary librarian.