Northampton convent toasts foundation history

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The original convent in Northampton.
Camera IconThe original convent in Northampton. Credit: Catholic Diocese, Geraldton

A “sell-out” crowd isn’t expected at the Catholic Church in Northampton on Sunday morning.

After all, Mass there doesn’t attract the same numbers as it once did — in fact, the same can be said for anywhere in Australia.

Throw in a long weekend and there could be even fewer folk than normal attending.

But whoever turns up to the anniversary Mass will toast history — over a cuppa but after church. The foundation stone for Northampton’s Sacred Heart Convent — aka The Old Convent — was laid 100 years ago on Tuesday.

The stone was blessed by His Lordship, Bishop Kelly, assisted by the Very Rev. Dean Graber and Father Hawes.

Dean Graber spoke of the early days of the diocese and the lack of educational facilities but congratulated the Bishop on “the great strides made in his 20 years of administration”, instancing the convent schools erected in Geraldton, Mullewa, Dongara, Carnarvon and, of course, Northampton.

The original convent in Northampton.
Camera IconThe original convent in Northampton. Credit: Catholic Diocese, Geraldton

The secretary of the building committee outlined to a “large audience” that the building would be a 14-room, two-storey structure roofed in sheoak with back and front verandas. The estimated cost was $2400, or 1200 pounds as it was then.

The money came from the sisters, who had $400, Bishop (Kelly), who gave $800 while eight parishioners guaranteed a loan of $1200, borrowed from the bank.

A Mr. J Cunningham urged a collection be taken for the sisters for the noble self-sacrificing work they did. Mr. J Reynolds of Greenough supported the call.

A Mrs. W Fanning was thanked for her generosity in securing and paying for the bulk of the stone.

Plaudits were also given to a family of old pupils for a block of land and stone, Mrs. J.M. Drew and Mrs. Rigetti, each for a quantity of stone, the Sweeney and Shea Bros, J.T. Ruddaway, C.H. and A. Johnson for the carting of stone and material and all who assisted in Saturday busy bees.

Catholic publication The Sower reported a “very enjoyable” evening was held in the school room of the convent, the proceeds which were to be divided between the convent and the presbytery building funds.

“The thanks of the committee are extended to Mr. A Patten for playing the dance music and to Mrs. Thompson and Dooley, Miss Dulcie Snowdon, Miss O’Keefe and Mr. Murrino for songs all ably rendered,” The Sower continued.

“Mr. Joseph Bailey, who carried out the work of building St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Geraldton, is the foreman mason and clerk of works of the convent, which is to be roofed with sheoak shingles.”

The Old Convent is located on the main road through Northampton and is used as budget accommodation.

The Old Convent with a much newer face. This is how the building and grounds look today.
Camera IconThe Old Convent with a much newer face. This is how the building and grounds look today.

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