Parishioners distraught after fire destroys church

St Mary’s Catholic Church in Walkerville, Bundaberg, ablaze on Tuesday morning (ABC News/Marie McAneney)

“Pop, crack” is how neighbours described the sounds alerting them to a fierce blaze that destroyed a Queensland Catholic church early yesterday. Source: ABC News.

By Nicole Hegarty and Scott Lamond, ABC News

The facade is all that remains at St Mary’s Catholic Church in the Bundaberg suburb of Walkervale, after a fire tore through the structure at about 4am.

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined but police have not identified anything suspicious at this point.

Nearby resident Marie McAneney was one of the first at the scene.

She said she and her husband were woken by the sound of popping and her dogs barking.

“The church was engulfed; I took photos because my children went to St Mary’s school and my husband taught there,” she said. “It’s really tragic — a huge part of the community and a sad loss to a lot of people.”

There were tears yesterday at a parish meeting held to discuss the future of the church.

Parish priest Fr Peter Tonti said the community was banding together to share what the church meant to the community.

“The word I’ve heard often is ‘gutted’ because when you look at the church building itself, that’s what’s happened and I would suggest the people are that as well,” he said.

“That whole sense of purpose and hope and love in life, when sometimes our world really needs it [was] at St Mary’s, it was there.

“What St Mary’s meant for them ... we want to collate these stories so we can ensure St Mary’s lives on.

“We know our God will look after us and raise us up out of the ashes.”


St Mary’s Catholic Church engulfed by fire, taking 70 years of Queensland history with it (ABC News

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