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Granville parish commemorates Day of the Roses

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Fr Michael Les Campion pictured at the Day of the Roses memorial in a file photo. Photo: Supplied
Fr Michael Les Campion pictured at the Day of the Roses memorial in a file photo. Photo: Supplied

The Catholic community of Holy Cross parish in Granville joined the local community on 18 January to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Day of the Roses.

The memorial commemorated the 84 men, women and children who passed away on the same day in 1977 when a train from the Blue Mountains left the rails and crashed into the overhead Bold Street Bridge in Granville, collapsing atop the third and fourth carriages.

Fr Michael Les Campion, parish priest of Holy Trinity Parish in Granville (now Holy Cross) from 1971 until his retirement in 2007, arrived at the wreckage to administer last rites to as many victims as possible.

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This year’s memorial took place at 10am directly across from the site of the event at the Granville Train Disaster Memorial Park and was preceded by Mass at the parish at 9am.

Close to 100 people attended the service, including current parish priest Fr Andrew Bass, parishioners of Holy Cross, family members of those who died, survivors and rescue personnel.

“I feel it my duty to attend and pray for those who died and those who continue to suffer from the events of that day to show that they aren’t alone in their grief,” said Fr Bass.

“There are still those within our parish who can vividly remember that day and exactly where they were or what they were doing when the accident occurred.”

Also in attendance were Federal Member for Parramatta Andrew Charlton, State MP for Granville Julia Finn, Mayor for Cumberland Council Lisa Lake, and chief operations officer for Transport NSW Howard Collins, as well as representatives from the police, ambulance and fire departments.

“Although there has been a passing of time, the disaster continues to impact the church in Granville and there is still a deep sense of remembrance when the anniversary approaches each year,” Fr Bass said.

Church historian and archivist John Portelli says the efforts of Fr Campion on the day and his continued efforts in the community has kept the memory of the event alive in the parish years after.

“He was a member too of the Granville Train Disaster Memorial Trust, a position he held for over 25 years,” he said.

Fr Campion grew up in the Granville area, was ordained a priest in the Holy Trinity Church in Granville in 1950 and had been serving as parish priest there for less than two years before the event.

Fr Andrew believes the memorial is a unique part of the parish and community history which serves as a reminder of loved ones lost and also the love and dedication of one man’s ministry.

“The longevity of Fr Campion’s ministry in the parish, his close affiliation with the events of that day and his support of the memorial in the years which followed, helped etch this closeness between the Catholic church in this area and how the disaster is remembered and commemorated,” said Fr AndrewBass

“It is my hope that Fr Campion’s legacy of service and care will continue to be remembered.”

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