By Theresia Titus
The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder celebrated the feast of St Barbara with a Miners Memorial service on 29 November.
Following the memorial service, a parade was held on 2 December, recognising the City’s mining industry and the benefits the industry has produced.
The event saw some 10,000 locals coming together to watch and participate.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder Parish Priest Fr Brennan Sia officiated the Miners Memorial service and Assistant Parish Priest Fr Hyginus Ebede blessed the parade.
Speaking to The eRecord, Goldfields Catholic Parish Pastoral Council Chairman Robert Hicks emphasised that the festival – an initiative of the Catholic Church, is a parish tradition.
“The first festival commenced in 1999, the initiative of the then-Chairman of the Chamber of Minerals Eastern Regional Council and Goldfields Catholic Parish Pastoral Council Richard Scallan,” Mr Hicks explained.
“It demonstrates the pastoral nature of the Catholic faithful and is a constant reminder that this community was founded on Christian principles and continues to appreciate its Catholic heritage.”
Mr Hicks said Mr Scallan, who is a deacon and lives in Bunbury with his wife, had established heads of agreement with the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Kalgoorlie-Boulder Chamber of Commerce.
The intention behind the festival was to bring the mining industry into the limelight and showcase it to the wider community, he said. St Barbara was chosen, as the Church believes she is a patron to those facing the danger of sudden death at work including miners.
Being a daughter of a wealthy man named Dioscoruous, St Barbara was kept locked in a tower by her father in order to limit her from the outside world.
She died when her father beheaded her upon the discovery of her belief in Christianity. The Feast Day of St Barbara is celebrated on 4 December.
Mr Hicks, who has been involved in the planning of the City’s annual festival, told The eRecord there were a record 63 floats in this year’s parade, “of which the Catholic schools had their own”.
“One of the key responsibilities of a Parish Councillor is to integrate our faith into everyday life – home, work and community – and that is exactly what my involvement in this festival does,” Mr Hicks added.
The three Catholic schools in Kalgoorlie-Boulder were also involved at the Miners Memorial service, with students laying wreaths at the foot of St Barbara’s statue, located at St Barbara’s Square in the city centre.
“On very rare occasions, some people have commented to me that the Miner’s Memorial service is ‘too religious’,” Mr Hicks said.
“Notwithstanding, the crowd numbers have increased year on year so the format will remain as is and the Catholic influence will remain.
“This is all the more relevant given the festival occurs at the start of the Advent and Christmas period, therefore, it is hard to separate the Catholicity from the festival even if someone wanted to,” he concluded.