Jack and Gary Reddan recall going to Mass at St Michael’s in Bulla. The Church in Bulla was built in 1876. It was built of timber with a corrugated iron roof and when opened was free of debt. This was due to the generosity of parishioners. Licensees of one of the several hotels in Bulla donated the land on which St Michael’s was built.
Father Gallivan, parish priest, who lived in Sunbury, travelled to Bulla in a buggy drawn by a pair of horses.
Miss Kate O’Connor was the sacristan at St Michael’s for many years. She was an “elderly lady” in Gary’s youthful mind and would walk the two kilometres from her home every Saturday afternoon
(irrespective of the weather conditions) to clean and prepare the church for Sunday Mass. Kate considered it her duty to light the “fairy lights” in front of the statues on either side of the altar before Mass – she would light one – genuflect then proceed to the other side of the altar to light the other hoping to use the same match – sometimes she succeeded other times burnt her fingers to the amusement of the kids sitting in the church.
Parishioners were great supporters of their church organising euchre parties and dances to raise funds.
Gary and Jack were Altar Boys. On one occasion Jack was not present and Gary had to carry the huge missal on a large wooden stand and place it on the altar after firstly genuflecting and managing a step to the altar. All was well until the genuflection when he realised that the missal was balancing on his head. Before he could react there was a loud crash behind him on the floor. Being too frightened to pick it up – Father Brosnan came to the rescue and picked it up. Father didn’t make any comment and Gary remained an Altar Boy until he was 17 years old.
Both Jack and Gary recall their mother was the organist at St Michael’s. She didn’t play each Sunday.
However when there was a “Mission” (a devotion which lasted several days when a Mass in the morning, rosary in the evening followed by a sermon given by either the Oblates of Mary or Redemptorist priests and finally Benediction) she would play the organ. She also played for weddings.
Mass was a social occasion when the men and women of the congregation would discuss all sorts of topics. The men would meet outside before Mass began – attend Mass and afterwards would get together and continue their conversations. The ladies would meet in the church porch.
Jack, Gary and their family lived on a dairy farm and they milked cows before Mass which was at 9.30 AM one week and 11.00 AM the next. They drove to Mass in a horse and buggy. It was a 45 minute drive. If on their way they were passed by the priest they knew they were running late and they would have to get a hurry on as their family didn’t like to be late.
It was a sad day when St Michael’s closed. Four residential allotments were sold on the site of where the church stood. So now “we celebrate the historic influence St Michael’s has had on Our Lady of Mt Carmel parish”.
Taken from interviews given in 2007
Used with permission.