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Marj Ride supplemented this appeal with a 1200 word letter published in the 70,000 circulation North-Eastern Telegraph on 18 December 1989.

Under the heading, “HISTORY DESTROYED”, Marj pro­vided a synopsis of events since the fire and laid bare the “sacri­legious vandalism” of the Team and its “advisory committee of six” who “saw the opportunity to completely destroy every sign of our heritage and history without any thought for those thou­sands of parishioners who have worked, contributed and made many financial sacrifices to ensure our church and parish were maintained as should be.” The letter continued:

No matter that the parishioners during the time of construc­tion of the church in 1907-08 provided not only the money to build the church but also paid for all the furnishings and sacred articles within the church. Many items have been donated and given as bequests since that time, but was any consideration given to those people or their families? No! It seems to me the only thing this group of people wanted was to erase any sign of past generations.

We have no knowledge of where the statues of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady are, to mention just two, where the beautiful Stations of the Cross are and whether we will ever see them returned to the church. As a parish, we are never told what they have done with these articles, sacred as they are to the parish, and have never been told of the destruc­tion occurring within the church.

Of the desecration and destruction of Dean Davy’s altar and the sanctuary, Marj stated:

In my opinion, such vandalism is unbelievable when you consider damage caused to the nativity scene at the Benalla Gardens monument last year saw the perpetrators of the deed appear before court. If the same thing was done within a church, those persons would probably be jailed, but not this group of people who I believe appear to have lost all sense of ethics, morals and social justice as proclaimed by the Catholic Church.

… [The altar] was a gift [from Dean Owen Davy] to the parishioners of St. Joseph’s Church, not to the Diocese or any other parish in the Diocese, and should never have been allowed to leave the parish, but should have been stored within the parish so that in time, and under another priest, it could have been restored to it’s rightful place.

Dean Owen Davy Photo

Despite these appeals and the now very public division within clerical ranks, only six responses were received. The orthodox priests, reacting as if they had been called upon to man the barricades and shed their blood, maintained that fragmented and largely ineffectual clerical decorum. Still, it was a start and out of that half-dozen emerged one priest committed to assisting the people of Benalla. He understood the sinister edge to the controversy, the danger to the Faith and the need to cut through the clerical courtesies.