Earlier this year it came to the attention of the Parish Council, and myself as the Parish Priest, that it would be the 50th Anniversary of the construction of St. Cecilia’s Church on its current site. On behalf of the Parish Council, I contacted Bishop Michael to seek approval for a celebration and after further consultation with all involved, it was settled that the celebration would take place on 28th July 2019.

St. Cecilia’s Parish Council, which consisted mainly of Council members who were new to the position and still feeling there way, set up a sub-committee comprising members from both South and Port Hedland to prepare for the Golden Jubilee celebration. Fortnightly meetings were held and were open to any interested parish members who would be happy to participate and contribute ideas on how to make this celebration a great success.

Given the short period that we had to prepare, we discussed how to advertise the celebration. Advertisements and information were submitted to the local newspaper, North West Telegraph. The parish even stepped into the modern era and opened a Facebook account, which played a big role in the spreading of information. The preparation committee designed Invitation letters, which were sent around the Geraldton Diocese. We also asked people to share their old photos of St. Cecilia’s Church. This helped bring back lots of memories, especially of Cyclone Joan in December 1975, and the many Religious and Clergy who served at St. Cecilia’s.

We also prepared a $5 a ticket raffle with three major prices. 1st prize a $500 voucher, 2nd prize a $200 voucher and 3rd prize a Lamp stand. The funds raised from the raffle exercise was used by the parish and was helpful in covering the costs of advertising our celebration.

When our great Jubilee day arrived we achieved the highest number of attendance with a full church. The Mass was Concelebrated by the Most Reverend Michael Morrissey, who was the main Celebrant, Fr Brian Ahearn, the Vicar General of the Diocese and Parish Priest of Dongara, Fr. January Mkude CSSp, the Parish Priest of Port Hedland and myself. Among the many guests invited was the former Bishop of Geraldton, the Most Reverend Justin Bianchini, who could not attend as he was committed to supplying the weekend Masses for Newman / Tom Price in absence of the Parish Priest, Fr Steve Casey, who was away on holidays. Bishop Justin sent a congratulatory letter to the Parish recalling the many times he visited and served among the people of Port Hedland. In his homily, Bishop Michael recalled his time as Assistant Priest in South Hedland as a young priest. He thanked God for all the Parishioners, both past and present and all who served, and continue to serve, at St. Cecilia’s Parish since its foundation in 1941.

St. Cecilia’s Church Choir, together with the Choir from the Fiji and Tonga Communities of Port Hedland, enhanced our Eucharistic Celebration tremendously with very lively music of praise and thanksgiving.

After Mass, Bishop Michael blessed a plaque in honour of all the Priests and Sisters who served at St. Cecilia’s Church. Everyone then gathered in the Undercover Area of St Cecilia’s Catholic Primary School for a shared lunch, generously provided by the many families who attended.  During lunch it was a good to see and hear everyone interacting, both young and old, sharing past memories and making new ones. It was really a successful and happy day.

The Parish would like to thank St. Cecilia’s Catholic Primary school for being so supportive throughout preparations and during the celebration. Offering us the Undercover Area of the school as the venue for our shared lunch was great. We thank members of both Parishes, South and Port Hedland, for actively participating and bringing a “plate” to share. Many thanks too to St. Cecilia’s Parish Council and the preparatory committee. Fr Edward Khaemba CSSp, Parish Priest, Port Hedland.