The morning light filters through stained glass, casting a red, blue and purple glow around the marble altar. Massed floral arrangements soften the air as Vicar General Fr Tony Percy and Deacon Patrick Whale prepare to celebrate Mass at St Patrick’s Church Binalong.

It’s Sunday, February 28, and guests, parishioners, friends, and members of the wider Binalong community have gathered to mark the historic stained-glass windows’ return to their home behind the altar.

The congregation includes Parish Priest Fr Jiss, Fr Allen Crowe (retired), Fr Dom Carrigan (rector of St Clements, Galong), Helen Delahunty (Archdiocesan Financial Administrator), Michele Murdock (Manager Catholic Development Fund) and Paul Reardon, President Boorowa Parish Finance Committee.

Historically, the Binalong Catholic precinct included the church, convent, school and presbytery. The century-old church is the sole remaining building in community hands.

Unfortunately, Binalong’s clay soils move erratically. Over the years, that created havoc in the church’s bluestone walls, leaving the stained-glass windows balanced precariously in cracked and crumbling niches. A tiny faith community faced a massive task to stabilise the walls and restore the windows.

Thank you to the religious leaders who supported that community in their project, especially Fr Tony Percy, Parish Priests Fr James and Fr Jiss, and Deacon Patrick Whale.

Thank you to those who contributed expertise: Jeff Hamilton and his team of stained-glass artists restored the windows; Alan Reid and his team stabilised the structure; Helen Delahunty and Michele Murdock facilitated finance and approvals; Yass Valley Council provided a Heritage Grant; Angela Regan helped greatly with the heritage application; volunteers Peter Muscat and Kevin Pollard plastered and painted the walls; Peter Minson and Lindsay MacDonald introduced Jeff Hamilton to the committee.

Thank you to local dynamo Jackie Groom, without whose vision and energy the beautiful windows would have fallen and shattered. Instead, they stand in colourful splendour, a symbol of hope for the next generation.

Robyn Sikes