History of Beechworth Parish

The discovery of gold at Beechworth in 1852 bought many miners to the area, many of whom were Irish, who also bought their Catholic faith with them.  From 1853 Frs Patrick Smyth, John Kennedy and Daniel Lordon were early priests, and then in 1860 Dean William Tierney became Parish Priest.  During his thirty one year association with Beechworth, Fr Tierney was witness to the formation of many Catholic parishes in North Eastern Victoria, from the Parish of Beechworth, which in early times extended from Kilmore in the South to Wodonga on the Murray River.  So in one sense Beechworth was a mother Parish to many.

1977 – the 113 year old church was gutted by a fire in July.  Worse affect was Our Lady’s chapel, the oldest part of the church.  The chapel was built in 1874 as the first part of a planned cathedral.  The rest of the church was built a year later.  The central quarter-foil cluster columns were unique in Australia.  In the 1870’s Beechworth was mooted as Australia’s future national capitol.  The church had a national trust classification. (Border Morning Mail, Monday July 11th, 1977)

1978 – November 19th – Bishop Stewart blessed and re-opended St Joseph’s at a ceremony attended by about 500 people.  Also presenet was Anglican minister, the Rev M Crawley, who had lent the Catholic Parish the use of Christ church during the 15 month renovation. (Advocate, 1978)

The Parish rebuilding committee engaged Mr Peter Straughton to supervise the rebuilding.  The insurance company had spent $214,618 on restoration and replacement works.  The parish initiated an appeal and received generous support from all over Victoria and beyond.  Timely modernistations were added along with organ restoration work and a complete new sound sytem.  “The History of the Parish of Beechworth was officially launched

2005 - The town of Beechworth turned 150 in 2004 as did the Catholic Parish of Beechworth.  Bishop Joe Grech celebrated mass.