PHOTOS: Heart of Mary beats on after fire claimed church
WHILE a fire reduced the Bundaberg St Mary's church to ruins, it hasn't claim the cross which sat above the church nor the faith of the community who've referred to it as a second home.
Hundreds gathered under a marquee this morning where the church formally stood for a Mass of Remembrance on the first day of Advent.
Among the attendees were some of St Mary's first pupils and the neighbouring family who called emergency services when the fire which razed the church, broke out in February.
Through prayer, song, and community, the former church was given a moving mass as the community looked to the future.
Father Peter Tonti-Filippini said while they had several good ideas, no official plans for the future of the site had been made by the parish.
Father Tonti-Filippini this morning's mass was moving, as he became tear-eyed when they started singing Hail, Holy Queen.
He said that song "rung a lot of bells" because on the day itself that was sung when they had all gathered.
Father Tonti-Filippini said it was an ancient hymn and it constantly amazed him that everyone knew the words.
Pleased to see so many people gather and help organise the morning's event, he said it was "just beautiful".
Father Tonti-Filippini said the church was built in 1955 and the stories behind some of the memorabilia on display in the in the adjoining John Vianney Hall could be told by people who attended the mass.
Jackie Habermann has spent decades associated with the St Mary's church, she was married in the church, her seven children attended the school and were all baptised at the site.
She said there was also some family children married and family funerals held at the church.
She said the church was like a "home away from home".
If there wasn't a ceremony taking place, Ms Habermann said she would still call in and water the flowers.
Father John Daly said his family lived on Simms Rd and had been at the church since the day it started, with plenty of stories in between now and then.
"I started school here in Grade 2, my sister and brother were Grade 1, so we were here all the time," he said.
Father Daly said today's mass was emotional but lovely.
Parish manager Norm Whyte said a lot of preparation went into the mass and catering for the 300 attendees.
He said today was a significant day within their church calendar - the first day of Advent.
Mr Whyte said it was about having a new vision, something which was symbolic given the current circumstances of the church.
"The parishioners have to look forward, we can look back and love what we're looking back on, but we need to look forward as well," he said.
"It's very significant to have it on today."
Last week the alleged arsonist had his matters mentioned in court.
Jeffrey Michael Baker is facing a number of charges including arson, attempted arson and entering a premises with intent.
His lawyer Rian Dwyer told the court Baker was due to be assessed by a psychiatrist on November 13 this year.
The court heard proceedings were to be suspended until further advised.
The matter was adjourned until January 14 to see where the matter would be at that time.