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Celebrating 100 years of the Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese

To mark their centennial, the Catholic Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes celebrated mass on Saturday 5th of August at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Broken Hill.

​The Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese was founded in 1917 to serve the growing population of Western NSW. At just over half the size of NSW, the Diocese takes in 22 parishes in the towns of Forbes, Broken Hill, Deniliquin, Moama and greater Western NSW.

An amalgamation of the Wilcannia Diocese, which dates back to 1887, and the Deanery of Forbes, Wilcannia-Forbes serves the 100,000 parishioners who call the area home and has been going strong for 100 years.

Parishioners celebrated this milestone with a mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Broken Hill. At mass, Bishop Columba MacBeth-Green OSPPE unveiled a statue of St Barbara, the Patron Saint of Miners, which was dedicated to the miners of the past, present and future in recognition of the 130 year history of mining in Broken Hill and the surrounding areas.

Bishop Columba, who was born and raised in the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese, says that it means a lot to have a diocese that's been around for 100 years.

"For an area like ours, which spans 52% of NSW, it's a big deal to have a diocese and a 100th anniversary. It is a celebration of how the church has become part of rural outback Australia in the past, present and future. When isolated or rural communities are struggling and shops are closing down, it's important that the church still has a presence, so the community has hope," Bishop Columba says.

"The diocese still has strong connections to mining, and when a Polish mining heard that there was a mining town connected to the Diocese, they thought we ought to acknowledge the Patron Saint of Miners," Bishop Columba says.

St Barbara lived in the 3rd century and was martyred by her own father for not renouncing her Christianity. The statue, which depicts St Barbara sitting in a mining shaft, is made from high density coal and sparkles in the light.

After the celebratory mass at the Cathedral, guests were invited to attend dinner at the Trades Hall in Broken Hill. Other parishes in the region are marking the anniversary with debutant balls, dinners, and colouring competitions. 

CCI  is pleased to support the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese 100th anniversary celebrations.

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