‘Sad moment’ for Allanton congregation
• Church marks final day
By David Loughrey
Mona Todd brought a penny to put in the plate on Saturday, but there was to be no collection at Allanton’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The Mass of thanksgiving at the tiny Allanton church marked its final day as a place of worship, after serving the needs of its mainly Polish community since 1888. “People all came in their horse and carts,” 92-year-old Mrs Todd, nee Velenski, said of her memories of the church she had attended since she was 4. Some people walked “for miles” to come to church and others came from as far as Outram and Henley. Saturday’s service was a “sad moment”, Fr Mark Chamberlain said. During the service, he told the congregation it had been a “painful and difficult decision” to let it go. It had been sold to a Catholic family who planned to convert it into their family home. “We pray the family home continues to be a place of blessing,” he said. After the service, he said there had been no Mass at the church for the past eight years because of the low number of church-goers and a lack of priests. Church members were now worshipping in Mosgiel. “There are strong connections for Allanton and East Taieri people, and also the Polish people who settled here.” The Polish background was evident on Saturday, as about 40 people attended the Mass. Names like Pedofski and Orlowski featured in the programme for the service. Karen Anderton, nee Gorinski, said five generations of her family had gone to the church. Her parents had married there, and her father’s funeral had been the last in the building. “I’m very, very sad at the closure.” Poles had come to the town to build the railway line, she said. The church began as the First Roman Catholic Church in 1871 at East Taieri, but was moved to Allanton, at that time called Greytown, in 1877. The first Mass at the new site was in 1888. Glenys Ferguson said she was baptised and married at Sacred Heart. Her mother, who had been in charge of cleaning the church, had her funeral there. Fr Chamberlain said the pews would not be sold, but offered to families. The “statue of our lady” would be offered to the Polish community, and the stations of the cross, altar and lectern would remain within the parish.
Thanksgiving for the memories . . . Monica Homes (9) and Mona Todd (92) after a thanksgiving Mass for the closure of Allanton’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church.