St Mary’s beauty restored
St Mary’s Catholic church in Bungendore celebrated the installation of the long-awaited restored stained glass window, which was originally created by John Falconer of Sydney. The seven-year project saw the magnificent window once again installed in the northern wall of the church.
During the past 156 years, the damaged window has undergone several repair attempts. After removing and dismantling, it was discovered that the window had undergone substantial repairs in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Limited funds at the time resulted in the original Falconer design being altered.
In danger of collapsing, it was decided to fully restore the window. This would cost in the order of $80,000.
The St Mary’s fair was resurrected, and after five fairs, St Mary’s had accrued a substantial portion of the projected cost. The final $30,000 was given as a very generous and welcomed grant from the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) Heritage Fund. The St Mary’s faith community is most grateful for this contribution.
Cummins and Stehn were chosen as contractors to repair the window. With over 30 years in the business, Gerry Cummins and Jill Stehn’s work has been hailed by locals as “simply amazing.”
The repairs included the cleaning (with cotton wool buds) of every piece of glass in the window, all the lead cames (H-shaped sections of lead which hold the individual pieces of glass in place) were replaced and soldered into place by Jill Stehn. The old repairs of damaged sections of the window were corrected and other alignment errors were rectified. The wooden frame was restored by Gerry’s nephew Paul Cummins.
With knowledge of the damage from hail recently experienced by Canberrans a toughened glass protector was also installed on the northern section of the window to protect both the window and frame.
The window was a gift from Mary Mulcahy Shanahan, wife of local magistrate Thomas Shanahan Jnr of the Briars, Molonglo. The location of Mary’s grave in an unmarked plot beside her husband was confirmed recently using ground-penetrating radar, and plans to mark her grave are currently under discussion.
St Mary’s would like to offer special thanks to all those who supported the St Mary’s Autumn fair over the past five years for making this restoration project possible.
- The church is open for Mass on Sunday morning at 8.30 and Wednesday morning at 9.00. Visitors are welcome to attend Mass or come after Mass to view the window. A formal blessing of the restored window will take place when COVID-19 gathering restrictions are eased.