History of St Christopher’s Chapel

St Christopher's Chapel is on the north bank of the Fitzroy River about 10km from Rockhampton, on the Emu Park Road. Turn right at the St Christopher's sign. Photo: From the Capricorn Coast Historical Society collection.

St Christopher’s Chapel was named after St Christopher, the patron saint of travellers.

It was built by the 542 Engineers Ship and Shore Battalion, US Army in 1943. This unit later saw action in New Guinea and the Philippines.

The area around the chapel was largely a convalescent camp for American troops based around Rockhampton and other American units who had been sent back to Rockhampton for a rest period after combat operation in the Islands.

During the peak time of the American occupation there were over seventy thousand American troops stationed in the Rockhampton area.

These were three combat divisions, the 24th, 32nd and 41st U. S. Army divisions and one Army Corps.

Each of these units contained 15,000 men.

The remainder of the balance was made up of unattached troops. Several chaplains, seeing the need for a chapel, joined forces and approached the Corps Commander for help.

As a result, the 542 Engineers Ship and Shore Battalion was delegated to build the chapel under the supervision of the various chaplains concerned; namely, two Protestant, a Roman Catholic padre and a Jewish rabbi.

When completed late in 1943, the chapel was consecrated as a place for ‘divine worship’ by the four chaplains involved.

It was to be completely non-denominational as are most church services within the US Army, with a chaplain representing the various denominational churches and contributing to the service.