100 YEARS YOUNG: Frs Gonzo, Costigan, Carrol, Murray and Hickling cut the centenary cake at the Chinchilla Our Lady of Help Christian parish 100 years celebration on Saturday.
100 YEARS YOUNG: Frs Gonzo, Costigan, Carrol, Murray and Hickling cut the centenary cake at the Chinchilla Our Lady of Help Christian parish 100 years celebration on Saturday. Brooke Duncan

Centenary celebration is the icing on the cake

IF THE crowd was anything to go by, it's pretty clear the Chinchilla Catholic Church has touched hundreds of lives in its 100 years.

The Our Lady Help of Christians' parish grounds were a hive of activity last weekend as past and present parishioners came together to commemorate the centenary.

There was a historical display, some scrumptious food and plenty of entertainment as old friends met again for the first time in years, with broad smiles and twinkles in their eyes.

Friends like Angela Ryan and Leo and Lorna Hayden, whose infectious joy left smiles sprawled on many faces.

"I'm just having a wonderful time meeting old friends,” Ms Ryan said.

For one of the event's organisers, Jody Hart, the church holds a very special place in her heart.

It was where she made her first communion and confirmation, and in her own words it has been a "big part of my life, all my life”.

"It is just beautiful to have so many wonderful people return, and people we knew when we were going to school, they've all returned for the celebrations,” Mrs Hart said.

Before the current brick church was built, Mrs Hart said the parishioners used to worship in a small timber church that's still in use today as the church hall.

The church has certainly grown since those early days and, as the old adage goes, many hands made light work as the community prepared for the celebration.

"The parishioners have just been amazing, they've done all the cooking and everything like that and we've had a great celebration. It's something people won't forget,” Mrs Hart said.

One highlight of the day was the unveiling of the truly masterful centenary cake, crafted to perfection by Chinchilla local Sharon Beard.

"I phoned Sharon and I said 'Sharon, would you make me a cake?' and she said, 'Oh yes, I'd love to',” Mrs Hart said.

"She said 'what would you like?' and I said 'how about a church?' but then I didn't realise until I saw it what she had done.

"She'd win a prize anywhere in any show with her church, with her design and everything, it was just so true to form.”

Mrs Hart isn't exaggerating, with the stunning creation a perfect rendition of the beautiful building.

To add historical richness to the culinary masterpiece, the knife used to cut the cake belonged to Mrs Hart's mother, Mrs Joe Gleeson. It is more than 100 years old.

As for what the next century holds for the parish, Mrs Hart was thoughtful.

"It worries me a little bit. The young ones today don't seem to have the faith we were raised to believe in, but I guess it'll happen,” she said.

"I do think the young ones will eventually come back to the faith.”

And the Chinchilla church will be waiting for them.