Saint Michael’s Church Today
As it has been for nearly 175 years, the Church of Saint Michael the Archangel is the place of Catholic worship in the heart of the Wollombi Valley.
The local community, through fund-raising functions, donations and loans, raised $120,000 to purchase the church that was auctioned in 1991. The Friends of Saint Michael’s was formed to take charge of the preservation and restoration of the church, and to raise funds to clear the mortgage.
A decorative feature which echoes the Gothic architectural style of the church is the traditional stained-glass window above the altar. This window was moved with the church and restored. The shaped sandstone surround encloses an image of the church’s namesake, the warrior Archangel Michael. In 2005, as part of the fund-raising activities of Saint Michael’s, local artist Margaret Ella was commissioned to design and craft a series of windows based on Creation as described in the Book of Genesis. The six windows in the body of the church are in a modern style using colourful and distinctive glass, and have incorporated Australian flora and fauna as well as symbolic images. The result of this sweeping imagination and expertise is a truly outstanding addition to the beauty of the building, and an uplifting visual experience.
Government grants assisted with the extensive restoration work on the interior. The original frieze around the nave walls and the ornate decoration in the sanctuary were uncovered and re-stencilled, with the heritage painting retained on part of the arch and western wall of the sanctuary.
On 3rd October 1999, the Reverend Michael Malone, Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, re-opened and blessed the church which is now deemed a private chapel. The Saint Michael’s community is an active and committed group, welcoming all newcomers and visitors to the church.