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Churches

The first church to be established in Mackay was St. Patrick's.  Many of the early settlers were Irish Catholics who petitioned Bishop O'Quinn for a priest who arrived in 1865.  He was Father Lonegan.  The site for the first church was donated by the sugar pioneer, Thomas Henry Fitzgerald, and the building opened in 1866.

Father Lonegan was succeeded by Father Pierre Marie Bucas, a Frenchman who became a legend in the district.  He started schools for the children and an orphanage at the seaside area then called "Seaview", but now known as Bucasia, perpetuating the name of the priest.

A new church was built in 1873 that was also used as a school.  The present St. Patrick's, built in 1963 is the fourth Catholic church in Mackay in the River Street area.

The Anglican Church (formerly Church of England) in the 1860's was part of the Diocese of Brisbane.  The first Holy Trinity was a temporary chapel, replaced by a stone building in 1867.  The first incumbent appointed was Rev. E.T. Tanner.  The church collapsed in 1878, and again replaced ten years later by a fine building that once again was destroyed by the 1918 cyclone.

The Second Holy Trinity Church of England built c. 1888 and destroyed in the 1918 Cyclone.
(Mackay Historical Society Archive No. 87-589.

The present Holy trinity Church was opened in 1925, said by many to be the finest in North Queensland.

The oldest church still standing in Mackay is St. Paul's in Macalister Street.

Originally built in 1897 for the Presbyterians, they had organised themselves well before that time.  In 1872, Rev. J. McAra visited Mackay and stayed a short time, conducting services and visiting people.  After his departure a public meeting was called to establish a church.  Rev. Blain was first minister.  Under the leadership of Rev. James Gibson, the present church was built.

As with other church groups, centres were established in country areas.  At Walkerston the McKay family was very active.  Three of the sons became Presbyterian ministers.  Rev. Sam McKay at one time was superintendent of Weipa Aboriginal Mission. his brother, Fred, was successor to "Flynn of the Inland", and later Moderator General of Australia.  Brother Les was Moderator of Queensland at the same time.

The Methodists owe their foundation in Mackay to Charles Green who arrived in Mackay in 1881 as a partner in an engineering works.  He immediately set to work to raise funds for a church that was built in 1883.  It was also destroyed in the 1918 cyclone.  Its replacement in 1923 was named the Charles Green Church, and served Methodists until the merger with the Presbyterians to form the Uniting Church.  The church was bought by the Salvation Army and is home to their thrift shop.

The Salvation Army celebrated its centenary in Mackay in 1988.  Their first Army hall was also damaged by the 1918 cyclone.  The Citadel that replaced it was sold when they bought the Charles Green Methodist Church.

Lutherans came to Mackay with the early German and Danish settlers in 1863.  Their first church in Peel Street was destroyed in the 1898 cyclone and rebuilt in Wellington Street.  The present church was built in the late 20th century.

Seventh Day Adventists were also early arrivals, holding their first service in 1908.  In the 1920's Assemblies of God and Church of Christ were established.  The Baptist and Church of Nazarene in the 1950's and in later years, Christian Outreach Centre and Jehovah's Witness'.  Members of the Presbyterian Church who did not wish to join the Uniting Church, have continued to worship at Scots Church, North Mackay.

The German Apostolic Church was established in Mackay in 1891 and a church was built in Peel Street in 1905.  It was replaced by the present church in Sams Road in 1973.


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Mackay Historical Society



Mackay Historical Society and Museum Incorporated 2001-2006.
created 27 July 2004.
last updated 09 August, 2006 .
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