"This is one of those books that comes along once in the blue moon. The kind that arrives unheralded, without literary pedigree or fanfare, without glitz or commercial appeal. And it blows your socks off. No summary can do it justice. To say that it’s the story of the efforts of an Irish-Catholic community near Tower Hill in Western Victoria to save their local church is probably yawn-inspiring. And yet Regina Lane, whose family history is intimately bound up in this church, has written a passionate, rousing, historically significant page-turner that, as Shane Howard puts it, transcends the ‘‘local now’’ to raise big questions about power, justice and the spirit of place. As the story of a community’s struggle to be heard by a complacent church hierarchy, it’s also extremely topical at a time when the Catholic Church is under scrutiny for other abuses of it power. A truly wonderful tale"
Fiona Capp, 'Pick of the Week', The Age, Sydney Morning Herald
“Written with considerable skill…this is not a book to be read in small doses…it is an entirely gripping read”
Scott Stephens talks to Regina Lane, on how she and a tiny community in Victoria saved their local Catholic church, St Brigid's.
Author, Regina Lane speaks to Rachael Kohn about Saving St Brigid's on the weekend of St Brigid's centenary, 28-30th June, 2014.
The motivation for Regina to write the book came from a feeling of responsibility to her descendants to share their story. Saving St Brigid’s traces Lane’s family migration from Ireland, after the famine, to Killarney. It tells the story of her family’s ongoing commitment to the faith and community life that surrounded the building, as well as the quest to save it from sale.
She joined Hilary to chat about the campaign and her book.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine will launch a memoir in honour of their church's battle for survival. Saving St Brigid's is the unique story of a rural Australian community who, in the spirit of their Irish rebel ancestors, fought against the Catholic Parish that wanted to sell their church
Andrew Hamilton, Eureka Street, 11 March 2014
"Above all Lane invites the reader into her own journey. It takes her from a country life lived in the shadow of St Brigid's to the city where she seeks to find her place in a broader world, working in social organisations in Australia and overseas. When she committed herself to save St Brigid's she found herself building personal and community identity out of apparently inadequate materials. At the book's end she is able to own in her own way the values of family and community she had earlier found constricting...
She gives herself so generously in her writing that her book becomes a love story, touching all the moments of self-doubt, of ecstasy, of despair, of friendship, of the transfiguration of faces and places, and of exacting ordinariness that are the grammar of love.
"Saving St Brigid’s (Bridin Books) is Regina’s first book and was a true labour of love. Her deep, personal connection to the church, which was her family’s local church when Regina grew up as a child at Tower Hill, spurred her on to raise the $15,000 required to write and publish the book...
Regina Lane brings the spirit of the region’s multi-faceted history alive through the tale of modern rebellion, and in doing so, creates her own culture of thought, which leaves a legacy of its own.”
"Regina Lane’s memoir of the saving of the church is a passionate book, even polemical at times, which starts a little tentatively, and gathers pace as one turns the pages. It’s a tale of collective memory of the past: a lot of feeling is invested in the spud-digging men and lamington- and sanger-making women, descendants of Famine migrants, who kept the place alive. It was a hub of the district, celebrating weddings, funerals and holding dances. The book conveys a sense of place that is numinous not only for those who grew up there, but also for newcomers to the tightly-knit but nonetheless open-hearted community of Crossley. One sees this humble place freighted with memories, so its desired re-purposing as an Irish-Australian cultural heritage centre makes excellent sense...
It is a fascinating, because uplifting, narrative about a community that successfully resisted such monolithic power and in the process empowered itself. The struggle itself forged new and more inclusive bonds and new purposes. I expect next time I’m at Crossley that the church and the hall will have had much more love poured into them."
"Saving St Brigid’s, by Regina Lane, has a number of interconnected themes. At one level it is a David and Goliath story about a group of passionate and determined locals who are determined to save their parish church in spite of the intransigence of Catholic Church officials. It is also about the ties that bind: family, home, religion and community. Above all it is the personal story of a young, idealistic woman who must make her own way in the world, guided but not contained by her formative experiences...
Lane spares nobody’s feelings when she describes the hostility, deception and undercover deals that went on. More poignant is the description of how her parents were forced to reassess their attitude to the church they loved and suffer the pain of exclusion from their own community..."