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Ukrainian church in Northam
Ukrainian church in Northam / ©catholicukes.org.au/

We have a small Parish in Northam WA

Northam WA is very well known to many Ukrainians in Australia. It was a major entry point into Australia back in 1949-1950. Old World War II army barracks were used as camps to settle Ukrainian refugees who had been in camps in Europe for years after the war.

The original army barracks are now gone. There is a new modern army barrack, apparently not far from the original one. It is being used by Australian Defence Forces today.

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On the site of the original camp is a new detention centre for modern day asylum seekers. Driving by, you can see tall chain fences with razor wire and a very large camp which has very many steel roofed buildings.

In the nearby town of Northam, back in the 50s, Ukrainians built their own community hall soon after they arrived. It is still standing today. That’s where they first met and prayed together. They built a church of their own, next to the community hall. That church is still there today and is being used. It seems that only a few originals still live in Northam. Mrs Anna Pidhirny and her daughter are among those remaining. A number of other people drive in from across West Australia for the monthly service.

Mrs Anna Pidhirny and Bishop Peter

Mrs Anna Pidhirny and Bishop Peter /©catholicukes.org.au

So what has changed? The creek which used to run between the church and hall has been filled in. The hall has been sold to a Baptist congregation. The church is still there and looks very good. As always it serves as an emotional memory of the days that have gone by. It is as it always was a link with our past and our spiritual heritage.

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