St Brigid's in Ballan celebrates

BALLAN’S historic St Brigid’s Catholic Church celebrated its 100th birthday yesterday. More than 500 people came to blow the birthday candles out and joined in on a special morning service. 

However, for many in the Ballan community, the remarkable milestone meant much more than just a birthday.

Four years ago, the church was completely gutted by fire and it wasn’t until late 2010 that it was fully restored. 

Ballan resident Tom Mullane said the anniversary was made all the more special after what the community went through to get the church back to what it was. 

“It was a massive clean-up task but when I look at it now, the church looks almost the same, but just a little more modern,” the 88-year-old said. 

Mr Mullane, who was baptised at St Brigid’s 12 years after the church opened, said it felt like a home away from home. 

“There were nine kids in our family and we used to ride our horse and cart four and a half miles to church every Sunday,” he said. 

Throughout his life, Mr Mullane said the church remained a constant in not only his life, but now his family’s. 

“Three of my granddaughters were married here and four of my grandchildren have been baptised here as well,” he said. 

The last wedding to be held before the fire was one of the Mullane granddaughter’s and the first wedding after the church was restored was also a Mullane wedding. 

“The 100th anniversary was a very special day for me. 

“This church means a lot to me and I have so many wonderful memories from here,” he said.