Stroud's second oldest church celebrated a milestone birthday with very little fanfare due to the statewide COVID lockdown.
St Columbanus' Catholic Church was to hold its 160th birthday mass on August 22, but the event was postponed due to the current restrictions.
To mark the milestone, parishioner Robyn Witt compiled a book on the history of the church, Such a Handsome and Costly Church.
The land the the church is built on was granted by the Australian Agricultural Company in 1859. At that time, Stroud was part of the Pastoral District of Raymond Terrace and priest in charge, Father Eugene Luckie laid the foundation stone on January 9, 1861.
However, at the time of construction, Stroud had become part of the newly formed Dungog parish that was created the year before.
On August 3, 1861, the Maitland Mercury printed that "this neat little edifice is now completed according to contract, and is to be opened shortly."
According to Ms Witt's research, there is no record of an official blessing and opening.
Nor is there a record of the reason why the church was originally dedicated to St Malachy, but by the 1880s had become St Columbanus'.
Over the years, Dungog parish became geographically very large, extending as far as Gloucester and Copeland, and at one time including Tea Gardens and Nelson Bay.
In 1955, St Joseph's parish Gloucester was created which Stroud became a part of along with Weismantels up until 1972.
Father John Jensen was appointed its first parish priest. Ordained in 1938, prior to arriving in Gloucester, Fr Jenson he had served in the Mayfield, Cessnock, Wallsend and Taree parishes.
He died in 1967 and was buried at Gloucester.
Since then nine priests have served the parish.
Currently, Stroud does not have a resident parish priest with Father Derek Garner coming over from Dungog to say mass once a month.
Did you know?
Gloucester's first church was a small timber building built in 1907.
It was the youngest of the three in the Gloucester parish, with Weismantels being built in 1902 and Stroud in 1861.
The Gloucester convent was built in 1919, when the Sisters of St Joseph arrived to open a school, with classes being held in the church.
The present church was opened in 1953, and classes were held in that building until 1969.