No. 1262 - St Helens - St Helena and St Stanislaw Catholic Church (1922)

St Helens is the largest town on Tasmania’s east coast. It was a whaling station in the early 19th century and when tin was discovered in the hinterland in the 1870s, St Helens developed as a port for the mines. The focus of this article is on St Helens’ second Catholic church which replaced an earlier church.

Records of the establishment of the first church are very patchy and the precise date of its construction is not known. [see No. 1053] It was most likely built in 1871 for it is recorded that the foundation stone of the new church, laid in 1921, took place “50 years after the first church was built”.

The original Catholic ‘chapel’ was a very rudimentary structure. Over the years numerous fundraising events were held to replace the building. In 1908 Hobart’s Daily Post reported:

A bazaar in aid of the fund for the new Catholic Church here was opened at Thompson’s Hall by Mr H. Grant, who dwelt on the necessity of a new structure, and congratulated the congregation on possessing so active and self-sacrificing priest as was Father Travers. By hook or by crook, the Catholics of St Helen’s must erect a permanent church…”.

In 1911 Reverend Father Kimbell attended a mission at St Helens. After the sermon Kimbell raised the issue of the “the very great need of a new church”. The Mercury reported Kimbell as saying:

“The present miserable structure was positively irreverent, and quite unfit for Divine worship. He understood that the smallness of their numbers and their limited resources made it seemingly impossible for the Catholics of St. Helens, however good their will, to build a church”.

In 1912 bazaar was held in aid of the new church fund:

“Father Travers congratulated all concerned on the splendid manner in which they work altogether, … he hoped soon to see the present dilapidated structure replaced with one that would be worthy of its holy purpose. Some time ago a Launceston Catholic family who desired that their names should not be revealed, gave the princely donation of £100 for the purpose. He hoped the same faith and generosity would move other Catholics who were blessed with this world's goods, to follow such a splendid example and help them in St. Helen's to erect a suitable church to the glory of God. Left to their own poor resources, though most generous according to their means, the Catholics of St. Helen's could not hope to build a church”.

After years of fundraising, on Sunday 26 May 1921, the foundation stone for a new church was ceremonially laid by Reverend Dr. Barry, Coadjutor Archbishop of Hobart. The brick church was designed by architects Walker and Johnstone of Hobart. There were already 28000 bricks on the site which had been purchased in 1915.

The church was completed in early 1922 and was officially opened and blessed on Sunday 5 March by Archbishop Barry.

In 1934 two stained glass windows were installed in the sanctuary as the result of a bequest made by Miss Martha Treloggen of Sydney. One window as dedicated to St Stanislaus, in in memory of John and Winifred Treloggen; and the other to St Helen, in memory of Martha and Margaret Treloggen. A bequest was also left for the purchase of altar furnishings, which included a standing brass sanctuary lamp, a sanctuary carpet, a brass missal stand and missal, vestment press and brass candlesticks. 

The church’s bell was salvaged from the “Queen of the Sea” which was wrecked on Sloop Rock near St Helens. In 1988 the church was extended with rooms added and the entrance was moved towards the rear of the building and the old entrance alcove was turned into a small chapel. Further stained glass windows commemorating pioneers of the church were added at this time.

Headstones and graves in the church precinct:


The Mercury, Monday 31 July 1876, page 2
The Mercury, Friday 9 November 1877, page 1
The Mercury, Thursday 15 November 1877, page 1
The Mercury, Wednesday 8 January 1879, page 3
The Tasmanian, Saturday 5 January 1895, page 9
Daily Post, Monday 8 June 1908, page 2
Examiner, Wednesday 2 August 1911, page 6
Examiner, Monday 9 December 1912, page 6
Daily Telegraph, Thursday 30 June 1921, page 6
Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 - 1928), Saturday 11 March 1922, page 10

The Catholic Standard, Volume 9 Issue 2, 13 March 2022

Southerwood, W. T Planting a faith in Tasmania : the country parishes. [W. T. Southerwood], [Hobart], 1977.


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