A treasured feature of rural life in Wyndham
The rural community of Wyndham (about twenty minutes inland from Pambula) has struggled with parishioner numbers for decades and hasn’t held a Mass in over ten years. The time has come to say farewell to the old building and begin the process of selling it to someone else to use and love.
Wyndham is a small, remote community that has recently been hit by bushfires. Before St Joseph’s was built, Mass used to be celebrated out of local homesteads and private dwellings.
It wasn’t until around 1897, after a considerable amount of fundraising by the then parish priest and community, that a site was purchased on North Street, and a little wooden church was built.
A unique little bedroom was attached to the church building, essential for the priest to break up the travel time. The priests of the day would travel on horseback out to Wyndham to say Mass, then would stay the night in the small bedroom and fulfil visiting duties before returning to main towns.
Travelling out to Wyndham now in a vehicle, one can appreciate how hard and exhausting a trip on an unsealed road on horseback would have been back in those days.
Through the years, the St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Wyndham has been a part of the Pambula parish, Candelo-Bemboka parish, Bega Parish and then, in about 1993, went back into the parish of Pambula. Nonetheless, over the years, the church has always remained a treasured feature of rural life in Wyndham.
Saint Mary MacKillop passed through Wyndham around 1899 and again in 1901, visiting the church, staying with nearby families, and dining at the Robbie Burns Hotel (Liston 2015, pp 48-49).
As with many churches, families had set seats they paid for to sit on each year.
Parish of Pambula priest Father George Ogah noted that the parish is now selling the church through a real estate agent and that there will be one last Mass celebration on March 19. Fittingly, this is also the Feast Day of St Joseph, which will no doubt make for a day of mixed emotions and memories for the community of Wyndham.
- Reference: Liston, J 2015, Faith of Our Forefather’s Living Still: 150 years of Catholic History in the Parish of Pambula, John Liston OAM, Pambula, pp 48-49.