Salvos’ hum­ble history

SEC­OND-HAND RAAF HALL STARTED IT ALL

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AS THE Sal­va­tion Army pre­pare to celebrate 150 years world­wide, the St Marys chap­ter is re­flect­ing on its own unique history.

Ma­jor Tony De Tom­maso has in­vited any­one in­ter­ested to at­tend a free con­cert to be held by The Sal­va­tion Army Vet­er­ans’ Band on Au­gust 26 from 11am at the St Marys site on Mor­ris St.

This is the sixth year Ma­jor De Tom­maso has led the St Marys Sal­va­tion Army. He pre­vi­ously served at Arn­cliffe, Coota­mundra, Cooma and Can­berra.

“The first thing I no­ticed when I ar­rived here was the coun­try feel, es­pe­cially hav­ing come from Arn­cliffe,” he said. “It was im­pres­sive. I also found it had a large por­tion of peo­ple with a de­pen­dency on sup­port agen­cies.”

He said de­spite the high de­pen­dency rate, many in the area are quite self­less.

“They can be the most giv­ing, es­pe­cially of them­selves,” Ma­jor De Tom­maso he said. “The Salvos has a great pres­ence in St Marys, there is a high level of trust.”

It’s be­lieved The Sal­va­tion Army has had a pres­ence in St Marys from as far back as the 1880s, but the of­fi­cial history books date its begin­nings in the area from 1955 when a women’s meet­ing, called Home League, be­gan.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the residential area of St Marys was de­vel­op­ing.

The Sal­va­tion Army pur­chased land, with the hope of one day build­ing a hall.

Lieu­tenant-Colonels Neil and Dorothy Young were cap­tains with The Sal­va­tion Army at the time and re­mem­ber its hum­ble begin­nings.

“In the lo­cal news­pa­per was an ad­ver­tise­ment of­fer­ing un­used air force huts at Rich­mond air base by auc­tion,” Colonel Young said.

“We had no spare money but we had an ex­cel­lent di­vi­sional com­man­der who said I could at­tend the auc­tion and of­fer to buy one for up to

100. I at­tended the auc­tion and got one of the best halls for 97.10. The hut was trans­ported and it wasn’t long be­fore St Marys had its own Sal­va­tion Army hall.”

De­spite hav­ing a grow­ing fam­ily and a con­gre­ga­tion of their own at Pen­rith, Cap­tains Neil and Dorothy Young re­mained com­mit­ted to es­tab­lish­ing a thriv­ing Sal­va­tion Army at St Marys.

It wasn’t long be­fore they­were min­is­ter­ing to 180 peo­ple per week and The Sal­va­tion Army de­clared it a corps (church) in its own right, with corps of­fi­cer Lieu­tenant Ray Palmer ap­pointed to the min­istry full­time.

Ma­jor Tony De Tom­maso out­side the orig­i­nal St Marys Sal­va­tion Army build­ing, and right, the build­ing be­ing in­stalled.

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