The first public presence of the Catholic church in Yass was the missionary journey in 1833 of Rev John Joseph Therry. In 1835 Father Therry was appointed Pastor of Campbelltown by the newly arrived Bishop Polding. Yass was part of his district. He visited Yass on a pastoral tour in October, November 1836 and again in March 1837, when he passed through Bowning to Goorama near Boorowa.
In 1837 Bishop Polding applied to the Government for a grant of land for church purposes, and an old map shows lots 2, 3, 4 and 5 of section 17 fronting Meehan Street dedicated to the Roman Catholic Church for purposes of school, presbytery and church. Collections toward building a church had been made as early as January 1837 when over 200 pounds were collected from 80 landholders. Bishop Polding blessed the foundation stone of the proposed church on 27 August 1838, the eve of the feast day of St Augustine of Hippo and the actual feast day of St Monica, mother of Augustine. Also present on that foundation day was Charles Lovat, an English priest recently arrived in the colony. He returned with the Bishop to Sydney then, but was to become soon the practical founder of the Yass Mission.
The township and congregation at Yass grew to such a point by 1950 that the old and original St Augustine's proved inadequate to the congregation. A decision was made to build a new church, bearing the same patronage. The foundation stone was laid on 11th April 1954 on the site of Dr Morgan O'Connor's old home in Meehan Street, opposite the old church and convent. This foundation stone was blessed by Archbishop Eris O'Brien, but the church was opened on 29th April 1956 by the former parish priest of Yass, Dr Guilford Young, the Archbishop of Hobart. The appearance of this large new brick church is crisp and modern, but it is designed in traditional Spanish style. The architect was John Fowell of Sydney, and there are important works of art by sculptor Tom Bass and a mural by his wife Lenore Bass. The parish priest, Bishop Young consulted with Tom and Lenore Bass about these works. The crucifix on the exterior was to suggest the anguish of modern day humankind. The sculpture of St Paul near the sanctuary was to be suggestive of mystical power in the everyday workers' life such as St Paul in his sailmaking. The mural panels by Lenore Bass presented the variety of saints in all their richness of character and life assembled about Christ. The reredos crucifix, also by Tom Bass, suggested not the anguish of the facade crucifix, but the purity and perfection of Christ's sacrificial offering. You can read more about our history here and more about the Tom Bass legacy here.
The parish priest of Yass commenced celebrating Mass once a month at Murrumbateman in the 1980s at the request of the local community. The local Anglican community generously offered the use of their historic All Saints church in Hercules Street. As the Catholic community grew with the rapid expansion of Murrumbateman in the 1990s the parish was able to offer a regular local Sunday Mass. More recently, the growing size of the congregation has necessitated a move to the Uniting Church Hall on the Barton Highway.
The Murrumbateman Catholic community is an active contributor to the broader St Augustine's parish and members regularly participate in major ligurgical celebrations in Yass as well as in the parish pastoral council, youth activities and St Vincent de Paul. The community conducts fundraising activities to cover its costs, the major one being at the Murrumbateman Field Days in October each year
Occasionally, in the absence of the Parish Priest, Ministers of the Eucharist lead the community in the Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion. They also distribute Holy Communion at these celebrations and to the sick and persons who may be unable to attend. All celebrations actively involve members of our community with music at most services provided by a very active music team. Reflections at the Celebration of the Word are offered by members of our community. The aim of these reflections is to share our own experiences as a response to the readings of the day.
The Murrumbateman Community has a Pastoral Team, which, in consultation with the Parish Priest and the community, co-ordinates all activities. The aims of the team are to:
- Promote the development of faith and ecumenical unity our Community;
- Provide liaison between the Parish Priest, Parish Council and the Murrumbateman Community;
- Assist the Eucharistic Ministers with their workload and work together to coordinate events held over the church year;
- Maintain the church roster (updated every three months).
The Parish of Gunning has been administered by St Augustine's Yass since 2008. The Parish covers the village and rural regions of Gunning, Breadalbane, Dalton, Gurrundah. In the mid 1990s it became evident that we would need to join with other parishes in the area at some time. We set about developing ways and skills in which we, as a community, could continue to serve the area. We were supported in this endeavour by the Archdiocese and established a Parish Pastoral Council and strengthened the already operational Parish Finance Committee. Both these bodies continue to operate and consult with the Administrator.
We try to be a welcoming community which is able to gather most Sunday mornings to celebrate Mass in Gunning with the Parish Priest of Yass. We encourage community participation in this celebration through music and reading. Members of the Parish and Ministers of the Eucharist are able to lead the community in a Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion when the Parish Priest is unable to attend Gunning. We encourage a different member of the community to offer a reflection at such liturgies.
We offer a family-based program to assist parents prepare their children for the sacraments of Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation. Parents are well supported by team leaders in Gunning and we are grateful for the support of the Yass sacramental leaders. We seek to walk together as we share the Eucharist and live our faith within our wider community.