Lorraine was born in Sunbury in 1939 and remembers the Eucharistic Festivals which were held at Rupertswood for fifty years.
The Festival began in 1931 and attendances were large. The year St John Boscoe was canonised a phenomenal number of people attended.
Lorraine remembers, that as a child, she had difficulty getting across Macedon Street to attend 9.30 am Mass with her brother and sisters because of the amount of traffic coming into Sunbury to attend the Eucharistic Festival. The cars would be lined up all the way back to Bulla and all the way out the Diggers Rest Road, as we used to call it, to the highway. Traffic was controlled by the CMF using two way radios.
Both gates at Rupertswood were used. In those days there was another bridge across the creek, further to the right of the existing bridge. The road over this bridge led to the back of the property. In later years the bridge was washed away in the floods.
Those who travelled by train alighted at the Rupertswood station.
In 1947 Lorraine was a flower strewer in the procession. The flower strewers were students of Our Lady of Mt Carmel School who had celebrated their First Communion. Lorraine recalls that they walked in front of Archbishop Mannix who was under a canopy holding the monstrance.
The procession set out from the front of the mansion, down the drive, and in and around the paddock, which was the original Ashes paddock, to the large outdoor altar which was set up and adorned with brass vases of flowers and candlesticks. Archbishop Mannix would walk up the very steep steps to the main altar where there were chairs for all the Bishops and hierarchy of the Catholic Church, and then there would be Benediction.
There was another altar, Our Lady’s alter, that was situated over to the right as one was going to the Rupertswood station.
It was a very colourful day with children wearing their national costumes. There were picnics down on the present day cricket ground, which in those days was a cow paddock. It was also used to park a lot of cars.
As a child Lorraine helped the Miss Fannings decorate the altar. She used to climb up a ladder to take the flowers from Miss Kit Fanning. Flowers were collected from Mrs Mary Kelly, Mrs McMahon and Lorraine’s grandmother. The Miss Fannings had a beautiful garden and provided lots of flowers.
The Sunbury Flower Show was always held on the first Saturday in November, the day before the Festival, and they provided lots of rose petals for the flower strewer’s baskets.
Later, when a teenager, Lorraine took over this role from the Miss Fannings. The Miss Fannings were two unmarried sisters who lived in the house in Powlett Street where the first Masses were celebrated in Sunbury. They were always referred to as the Miss Fannings.
When we were older we became Children of Mary and we would be the procession wearing our blue cloaks and white veils. I can remember Mary Wicks (Duggan), Pat Brain, the Sheehan girls, the Johnston girls and the Cardillo girls all marching in the procession. On the day of the Festival Children of Mary groups would come from all the towns near and far wearing their blue cloaks and First Communion veils.
There was always a big choir at the Eucharistic Festival. A beautiful choir.
There were a lot of Knights of the Southern Cross all done up in their regalia with their banners. They had ribbons across their chests and medals.
There was a cricket match in 1996 in Sunbury – the Origin of the Ashes – and supposedly 45,000 people attended, but it wasn’t a touch on what we used to have at Rupertswood for the Eucharistic Festival.
Taken from an interview recorded in 2007
Used with permission