FOUR GENERATIONS: Janette Dobson and her mother Theresa Harvey remember their days at the Wandal church fondly.
FOUR GENERATIONS: Janette Dobson and her mother Theresa Harvey remember their days at the Wandal church fondly. Chris Ison ROK120418cchurch1

Church demolished as cyclone repairs deemed too expensive

PICKING a sprig of rosemary from nearby bushes, Janette Dobson takes one last look at what is left of a church that gave generations of her family so many memories.

Reduced to a pile of rubble, the rosemary sprig is the only souvenir she can take away from where St Vincent's once stood on Herbert St.

The catholic church which neighboured St Joseph's Wandal primary school, was demolished this week after damage from cyclone Marcia in 2015 was deemed too expensive to repair.

With an estimated repair cost of half a million dollars, the call was made to demolish the church five months ago, which first opened in 1974 at a cost of $211,000.

Ms Dobson said she can remember the push for a new church to be build back in 1973, with the parish community fund-raising to help the construction process.

NO MORE: St Vincents Church in Wandal has been demolished after cyclone damage.
NO MORE: St Vincents Church in Wandal has been demolished after cyclone damage. Chris Ison ROK120418cchurch2

"Father Paul Dryden was the instigator of getting the church built,” she said.

"He was a driving force, he would roll up his sleeves and work as hard as he could.”

The church was designed by Mr Neil McKendry, the local architect who also designed the Pilbeam Theatre and was the father of Mary McKendry, former Rockhampton ballerina who married Li Cunxin (Mao's Last Dancer).

The basic concept of the design was that of a Roman Clerical hat, with the work on the building undertaken by J.M.Kelly Builders.

It was scheduled to be completed within 26 weeks, however due to wet weather and shortage of materials, the project was delayed.

Many donations were made to the building works, and over $35,000 was raised by the community through functions in the 12 months leading up to it's opening.

"The church was fully paid off in 10 years and we even raised money to replace all of the carpets in the future,” Ms Dobson said.

"It's not a posh suburb here, it is a blue collar suburb and still people have really pulled together and worked hard over the years for the parish.”

Ms Dobson said her family first became a part of the parish when her grandparents moved from Gracemere to Wandal after they married.

"We have four generations which have been in the church,” she said.

NO MORE: St Vincents Church in Wandal has been demolished.
NO MORE: St Vincents Church in Wandal has been demolished. Chris Ison ROK120418cchurch3

"So this church has been home, we have all been baptised here and it has been a long and wonderful association with the parish.”

Ms Dobson said there was a lot of sadness when it was announced the church would be demolished, but said it was inevitably a part of life.

"There was a lot of sadness, some people have found it very difficult to move on from that which is understandable,” she said.

"It is just such a big part of your life.”

Financial administrator for the Catholic Diocese of Rockhampton, Dean smith said there were no future plans for the current site.

"That will be for the parish to determine it's future,” he said.

Pictured above is the Church of St Vincent de Pauls at Wandal when it was first opened in 1974.
Pictured above is the Church of St Vincent de Pauls at Wandal when it was first opened in 1974. Contributed

"There was quiet a bit of unhappiness about the closing, within the community which is very understandable.

"It's not something we like to do but unfortunately mother nature had a hand in it and there wasn't a lot we could do.”

A liturgical ceremony to mark the decommissioning of the Church was held with the community at the site on April 5, 2018, which Fr Bryan Hanifin presided.



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