Bid to unearth family histories for St Brigid’s Mass centenary

ST Brigid’s Church will celebrate the centenary of its first Mass next year and the Crossley community is hoping to mark the occasion with a book that tells its story.

To help the people of Crossley uncover and share their family history, a workshop will be held on Sunday at the church hall.

Melbourne historian Helen Doyle, genealogist Mary Kelly and project co-ordinator Regina Lane will host the session from 2pm, which aims to give locals the skills and starting points they need to begin researching their family’s story.

“We wanted the community to have the opportunity to tell their family stories with a book that commemorates 100 years of the community,” Ms Lane said.

“A lot of people will already have a family history or a family tree or a box of photos under the bed.”

Representatives from the Koroit and Port Fairy historical societies will also be on hand.

“There’s a lot of information already available and we’ll help tell people how to go about and find it,” Ms Lane said. Funding for the project was provided by the federal government’s Your Community Heritage program. 

Ms Lane said people would be given a month or two to find the information and bring it back for another workshop that was likely to assist with scanning photos and collating information in readiness for the book.

“This book will be printed in time for the centenary and will also provide the basis for the planned St Brigid’s Cultural and Heritage Centre,” she said.

Ms Lane said she had “the privilege of researching my own family history in the region” for another book she was working on and “everybody else should have that opportunity too”.

“As I’ve discovered in my own research, St Brigid’s church and hall plays an enormous role, not just in our local history, but in the history of the Irish in Australia,” she said.

“It’s really important that we preserve that.”

The centenary of the first Mass at St Brigid’s Church in Crossley will be celebrated on the weekend of June 28 next year and any profits from the planned book will go towards helping the Friends of St Brigid’s group to pay off the community’s mortgage on the church, which will ensure it remains owned by the community.

If you’d like to attend the workshop on Sunday please contact Ms Lane on or 0450 053 815 to RSVP.

Hats, vests, shovels and muscles: the builders of St Brigid’s Church, Crossley, pose for the camera a hundred years ago.

Hats, vests, shovels and muscles: the builders of St Brigid’s Church, Crossley, pose for the camera a hundred years ago.