I’ve not spent a lot of time inside a church since I was a pup – apart from the odd funeral or wedding.
A few weeks back I was prowling the pre-dawn streets of Tennant Creek looking for interesting subjects and the Christ the King Catholic Church caught my eye.
I’ve always liked the look of this little church on the hill and with a recent fresh coat of paint it is looking better than ever. I noticed that the front door was open so wandered inside and caught up with Parish Priest Father John Kennedy, who was getting ready for early Mass.
The church was originally built in1904 at Pine Creek – nine hundred kilometres to the north – and had fallen into disrepair and disuse by the mid nineteen thirties, when Tenant Creek was in the middle of one of its several mining booms.
As Father W. E. Dew noted in a 1981 letter detailing the removal and re-construction of the church from Pine Creek to Tennant Creek:
I was appointed to Tennant Creek in 1935. I went to Darwin in 1936 and discussed the whole situation with Monsignor Gsell (later Bishop). He suggested me taking the P. C. (Pine Creek church to T. C. (Tennant Creek).
So there and then I arranged for Brother Andrew Smith M.S. C. (skipper of our Mission Boat serving Bathurst Island and Port Keats) to come with me to Pine Creek for a fortnight and managed in that time to dismantle the Church that was there.
Father Dew arranged for the good to be trucked to Tennant Creek. En route the truck was caught in floods at Daly Waters.
Once the black soil plains of that country dried out and the Church could be moved to Tennant Creek Father Dew:
… took out a Miner’s Right to [the land the Church is currently on] and … designed the building which was built eventually, completely divorced from the Pine Creek elementary structure which was virtually a hay shed 60ft by 20ft.
Apart from its curious history and lovely aspect, the Christ The King Church is famous because of the visit to Tennant Creek in 1985 by the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and to whom a shrine within the Church is dedicated.
I’m neither Catholic or religious but if you are and want to visit the Church Mass times are from Monday – Friday: 7.00am (Saturday and Public Holidays 9.00am) and Saturday: 6.00pm (Vigil) and Sunday: 9.00am. Reconciliation: Saturday 9.30am – 10.00am and 5.30pm – 5.50pm
Baptisms and Weddings: By appointment