Country church moves to the big smoke

Bishop Howell blesses the chapel (The Catholic Leader/Alan Edgecomb)

An 81-year old Toowoomba Diocese church has been given a new lease of life after it was purchased and relocated hundreds of kilometres east to a Brisbane school. Source: The Catholic Leader.

The last time Catholics living in Cooranga North saw their beautiful country church, it was listed for sale on a website.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church, built in 1937, served Catholics in Dalby, in Toowoomba Diocese, and then the neighbouring Jandowae community over 75 years before closing in 2013 due to low attendance rates and a lack of priests available to celebrate Mass.

A Brisbane man saw the online advertisement for the church and bought it, but not, as some thought, to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast venue.

Instead, former principal of St Thomas More College, Sunnybank, Peter Elmore wanted to salvage the church for his Catholic high school, which was in need of a new chapel.

That chapel was relocated to the schoolyard on June 28 last year, requiring two trucks to load the roof and body of the now 81-year-old church.

After more than six months, the new school chapel is now blessed and ready to serve the religious needs of the school.

Brisbane auxiliary Bishop Ken Howell led the official blessing of the chapel at a school Mass on March 2. But St Thomas More College principal Les Conroy said the Mass was purposely held outside the new chapel.

“Whilst it is part of our community, what we want to do is honour the Cooranga North people,” he said. “They were the last to celebrate Mass in the church and we wanted them to be the first to celebrate in the new chapel.”

When he told the Cooranga North Catholics the school’s plan for the church and its original community, “there were tears”.

About 80 parishioners who last stepped foot inside the church when it closed in 2013 walked through its doors for the first time at its new location for a community Mass last week.

“We wanted them to feel they were still connected to their church even though it’s not physically around the corner anymore,” Mr Conroy said.


Brisbane school breathes new life into 81-year-old country church (The Catholic Leader)


Old Chapel’s journey from outback QLD to Sunnybank (

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