History of Parishes
in the Diocese of Parramatta
From Dundas Valley in the east, west to Katoomba, south to Luddenham, and north to Richmond, the Diocese of Parramatta is made of 47 vibrant Parishes.
Dating back as early as 1832, each of these Parishes has its own unique story to tell and place in the history of the Diocese’s formation and growth.
Learn about the histories of the parishes in the Diocese of Parramatta. Click on a Parish to read more.
In a decree signed by Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta, on 5 March 2014 the Parish of Baulkham Hills South was broken up into the parishes of Baulkham Hills, Winston Hills and North Parramatta. Our Lady of Lourdes is now part of St Michael’s Parish, Baulkham Hills.
Baulkham Hills – St Michael’s Parish (Est 1917)
Its European history dates back to 1800 when land was granted to a group of settlers. In 1849, Archbishop Polding purchased some land and laid the foundation stone for a church dedicated to St Michael. It was 40 x 30 feet. It was extended in 1924, with stone from the ‘fired ruins’ of St Marys Cathedral. It served the parish, St Michael’s orphanage and St Michael’s School until July 27, 1980, when a new church was dedicated.
The Sisters of Mercy, who came to Parramatta from Callan, Ireland in 1890, established a home for orphaned boys in a cottage opposite the church. They taught at the school, opened in 1971, until 1990.
Over the years the parish has transformed from a semi-rural to suburban housing area with a steadily increasing population. The primary school now caters for more than 860 pupils and the 2006 census reported 7599 Catholics out of a total population of 23348, of whom 25% attend Mass each Sunday.
In a decree signed by Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta, on 5 March 2014, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish at Baulkham Hills South became part of St Michael’s Parish.
Baulkham Hills South – Our Lady of Lourdes Parish (Est 1969)
Parishioners in the Baulkham Hills and Winston Hills area, were originally served from early in our history by the priests from Prospect. In 1849 a church was built at Windsor Road and Chapel Lane known as St Michael’s in the field. This Church served the Hills area. However as the population grew around the Cross Roads area (Seven Hills Rd and Windsor Rd) parishioners who travelled by public transport found it more convenient to travel to St Monica’s at North Parramatta which opened in 1889. St Monica’s served a very large area including Galston, Dural, Wentworthville, Castle Hill, Seven Hills, Baulkham Hills, Pennant Hills, North Rocks and Rouse Hill.
In 1951 a parishioner form Baulkham Hills suggested to Rev John Ferrari, the parish priest at St Monica’s, that many of the market gardeners from the Hills area would find it more convenient to attend mass if it could be celebrated closer to home in the School of Arts Hall at Baulkham Hills South, situated in Windsor Road opposite the present parish school (the School of Arts has since been demolished). Rev Ferrari agreed and on June 10, 1951 the first Mass was celebrated at Baulkham Hills South in the School of Arts.
The next parish priest at St Monica’s, Rev Roger Wynne, saw a great need for a church school at Baulkham Hills and in 1958 wisely purchased a brick cottage surrounded by large grounds in Canyon Rd and in the same year Archbishop James Carroll blessed the foundation stone of the first building for the Church School. He named it Our Lady of Lourdes in honour of the Centenary of the apparition of Our Lady at Lourdes.
On September 21, 1958 Cardinal Gilroy blessed and opened the building and congratulated the people of Baulkham Hills South on the successful completion of the first stage of their ambitious program. At this point the people of OLOL were still part of St Monica’s Parish and all major functions were still held at St Monica’s. It was not until January 29, 1963 that the Sisters of Mercy, Sr Mary Dunstan, Sr Rose Cassar and Sr Cecily Morgan came to the school and opened the first classes which included Kindergarten to Year 3. Mass was now held in the school and the School of Arts used for concerts and other social functions.
On October 1, 1969, Our Lady of Lourdes became a separate parish and Rev John Kelly was appointed parish priest. Rev Kelly worked very hard for the parish and one of his first goals was to increase the complement of teachers so that the children in Years 4 – 6 could return from St Monica’s to be taught at OLOL. This goal was achieved in 1971.
As the local population increased rapidly more school rooms were needed. The south wing school extension was added in 1971 and the north wing added in 1975. Much of the school building was done with the help of volunteers from the parish. Many stories are still told about these regular working bees.
After satisfying the needs of the school the next major project was the building of the Church. Once again this project involved the local parishioners who used their skill as builders and other trades who gave their time generously every Saturday at the working bees to build the church. Work commenced on the Church in mid 1978. Finally the Church was opened by Cardinal Freeman on August 3, 1980.
Rev Kelly was instrumental in helping to set up many of the groups still working actively in the parish. He was also a foundation member of the Gilroy College Board and actively supported the building of Gilroy College. Sadly, Rev Kelly died on the July 10, 1985.
Rev Theo Arrivoli was appointed as Parish Priest on October 1, 1985. He carried on the building work at the school. He also fostered other activities including Missions by the Redemptorists and Passionists, introduced the Renew program to the Parish, Lenten programs, spirituality courses for the laity and introduced Family Groups.
Deacon Brian was ordained in December 1991 and was appointed Parish Deacon from February 1992. Deacon Brian was also a Police Chaplain and as such was available to any member of the Police Service and their families in times of crisis.
Rev Paul Slyney was appointed Parish Priest by Bishop Kevin Manning in early 1998 and shortly afterwards Fr. Paul was appointed Episcopal Vicar for Education in the Parramatta Diocese by Bishop Kevin Manning.
Deacon Joe was ordained in March 1991 and served 3 & 1/2 years at St. Bernadette’s Church Lalor Park and then called to serve with Rev Paul Slyney at Our Lady of the Rosary St Mary’s Parish before being transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes at Baulkham Hills South. Deacon Joe lectures with his wife Bette at pre-marriage courses and ministers as a Marriage Counsellor.
The new team faced a major undertaking in replacing the Parish Office, which had previously operating out of the old presbytery. The new Parish Centre was completed and operating by August 2001 and available to the many parish groups for use.
On March 1, 2004, Deacon Joseph Formosa was appointed to St Patrick’s Cathedral. Deacon Robertus Kim was appointed to the parish on June 17, 2005.
In November 2011, Rev Paul Slyney was appointed to St Thomas Aquinas Parish, Springwood, and Deacon Robertus Kim was appointed to St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta. In December 2011, the Parish Priest of Christ the King Parish, North Rocks, was appointed Administrator to our parish. A new Administrator was appointed in December 2013, Very Rev Michael O’Callaghan, the Parish Priest of St Michael’s Parish, Baulkham Hills.
In a decree signed by Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, Bishop of Parramatta, on 5 March 2014 the Parish of Baulkham Hills South was broken up into the parishes of Baulkham Hills, Winston Hills and North Parramatta. Our Lady of Lourdes is now part of St Michael’s Parish, Baulkham Hills.
In February 2015, Rev Michael O’Callaghan was appointed Administrator to Our Lady of the Way Parish, Emu Plains. Rev Wim Hoekstra was appointed Administrator to Baulkham Hills Parish.
In conclusion it can be seen that Our Lady of Lourdes Parish had a relatively short history of 65 years but it is a story full of personal involvement, community spirit and commitment to work for a goal.
Old Northern Road from corner of Edward Street to Seven Hills Road to Cropley Drive. Cropley Drive to Junction Road to Bellotti Avenue to Churchill Drive to Windsor Road. Windsor Road to Windermere Avenue to Darling Mills Creek to Edward Street.
Parish Church is in Canyon Road entry via Oaklands Avenue at Windsor Road, Baulkham Hills.
It seems the spiritual needs of Catholics in the Blackheath area were ministered to as early as 1842 by priests from St Bernard’s, Hartley. This arrangement existed until 1890 when the Blue Mountains parish, centred in Katoomba, was established. It serviced the needs of the congregations of Blackheath, Mt Victoria and Megalong until 1943.
The Sacred Heart Church was opened and blessed by Cardinal Moran on Australia Day, 1902. In May 1943, a new Parish District with its centre at Blackheath was created. The newly appointed resident priest assumed responsibility for a rather large area including Blackheath, Mt Victoria, Megalong Valley and a church hall at Medlow Bath.
The Sisters of Mercy from Wilcannia –Forbes diocese opened a small school in Blackheath in 1912. A larger school and convent followed in the early 1940s, allowing the intake of boarders. This was closed in 1970 and the schoolhouse has recently been refurbished as a church hall.
In the early 1990s the steady decline in the numbers of clergy dictated the need for changes in the Blue Mountains. In 1993, two Sisters of Charity took up residence in the parish house and as a result of diocesan consultation, the parish continued without a resident pastor. These Sisters left at the end of 2002 and a Dominican Sister was appointed in 2003 and continued until January 2008. Rev Robert Sheridan was then appointed to the parish on a full-time basis, first as Administrator and then as Parish Priest in 2010.
Sacred Heart Church: 18 Inconstant Street, Blackheath
St Joseph’s Church: Megalong Road, Megalong Valley
St Paul’sChurch: Great Western Highway, Mt Victoria
Mary, Queen of the Family Parish Est 2014 [amalgamation of the parishes of St Patrick’s Blacktown – 1946 – and St Michael’s Blacktown South 1970]
On 18 September 2014, the third Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, decreed the merger of the parish of St Patrick, Blacktown and the parish of St Michael, South Blacktown, into a new parish named Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown.
History of St Patrick’s Blacktown Parish (Est 1946)
The Catholic history of Blacktown started at Prospect Hill where free settlers had been farming since 1791. The small population built a church in 1856, which was officially blessed and named St Brigid by Archbishop Polding on July 27. A priest from Parramatta came to celebrate mass once a month and the church was also used as a school.
When the population moved to Blacktown station, due to work on the railway line, Mr Thomas Patrick Fitzsimmons gave a generous donation of land (his backyard), bricks and money. St Patrick’s Church was built and blessed by Cardinal Moran on June 19, 1882. Monsignor Rigney, who retired as Parish Priest of Parramatta in 1889, was now Parish Priest of Prospect and Blacktown. When he died in 1903, St Patrick’s Parish again became an out-church of Parramatta. The Sisters of Mercy started teaching in Blacktown in 1919.
Rev Bernard Massey was appointed parish priest in 1946. He built a presbytery in 1947, a school-church in 1952, established the Patrician Brothers College the same year and built a church hall in 1956. He died suddenly in 1957 and was succeeded by Rev Hugh Law, who extended the church-school and divided the parish into seven parishes.
In 1979, Bishop Bede Heather became Parish Priest. In 1984 the land in Patrick Street was sold to establish a new parish centre in Allawah Street. On December 7, 1986 shortly after the establishment of the new Diocese of Parramatta, a new church in Allawah Street was officially blessed.
History of St Michael’s Parish Blacktown South (Established 1970)
St Michael’s Church, Blacktown South owes its genesis to the old St Brigid’s Chapel, Prospect, which was opened in 1856. St Brigid’s was situated on the old Western Highway, Prospect, near the corner of Thornley Road where mass was celebrated regularly for 119 years until 1975. St Brigid’s Church was the first Catholic Church built in the district which is now the city of Blacktown. It is fitting that St Michael’s, Blacktown South was the first Catholic Church to be dedicated in the district since it reached its status as a city.
In 1960-61, Rev Hugh Law looked for land south of Blacktown for the foundations of a church. A lot in Reservoir Road answered the need for a new Blacktown high school, primary school and in time, a parish church. Fr Law first purchased the Orwell Street end of the large lot, and then the Reservoir Road lot. Fr Law consulted with the Cardinal who decided that the two parcels of land should be kept, equalling 10 acres in all.
In 1962 the Sisters of Mercy commenced the St Michael’s School on the Reservoir site, with only an old army hut and the old school house. The following year the Presentation Sisters took over the school.
In 1963, a migrant centre at Scheyville was closed and Fr Law was granted permission to have its church moved to South Blacktown. The funds for this original church building at Scheyville were made available from the bottle collections made regularly every Saturday by the St Vincent de Paul Conference at Blacktown. The church which had originally been built be funds from St Vincent de Paul (and had served the migrants at Scheyville) was transported in five sections by road. It became the church of St Michael.
The church was blessed by Fr Law in 1965 and a priest from Blacktown parish came each week to celebrate Mass in the church until the arrival of Rev Sidney Moseley in 1970. At the end of 1969, Fr Moseley was appointed Parish Priest of Blacktown South and celebrated his first Mass in the church on March 1, 1970.
The coming to the parish of Rev Moseley ushered in a decade of building development. On his arrival, the buildings of the parish church site consisted of a convent, pre-fabricated school classrooms, an old wooden house, a small cottage and a wooden church containing a tiny residence for a priest at the rear. Five years later in 1975, a presbytery was constructed which provided accommodation for priests and a housekeeper, meeting and interview rooms and an office. At this time Fr Moseley was given an assistant priest, Rev Peter Henry, who during his fifteen months at Blacktown South actively promoted youth activities in the parish.
In 1976 generous donations of money and labour enabled the construction of a new church. Rev Denis Foley became the assistant priest. He built up the catholic community within the parish by visiting parishioners in their homes, establishing instruction groups for parents and initiating senior and junior boys groups.
In 1977 the church of St Brigid was dismantled and the bricks were used to form the sanctuary wall of St Michael’s church. The original 1856 altar stone now set into the current church altar is a reminder of the ‘faith of our fathers’.
The year 1978 saw the construction of the new church designed by Mr Marchetti, along with further donations and supported by parishioners. On December 23, 1979 St Michael’s church was solemnly dedicated by Cardinal Freeman.
In 1988 on the eve on the Assumption, the parish was shocked by the death of Fr Moseley. He died suddenly while on a sabbatical to write a book. Rev Kevin Dadswell was Administrator in the Parish at the time and was later appointed as Parish Priest. In December 2004, St Michael’s celebrated its Silver Jubilee.
Fr Kevin Dadswell remained Parish priest fro twenty years until his ill health forced his retirement at the end of 2008. After a struggle with illness Fr Dadswell died in July 2009. His funeral held at St Michael’s was attended by the biggest number of people seen at a single celebration at the church. Bishop Kevin Manning was the principal celebrant.
The history of St Bernadette’s parish began in Baulkham Hills, in the year 1849. For “Ten Pounds of Lawful British Money”, a contract was signed and sealed for the purchase of one and a half acres of land on the New Windsor Road, which was to be the site for the first St Michael’s Church.
Catholic settlers, descendants of free settlers and convicts who lived at Baulkham Hills, Irishtown (Kellyville), Vinegar Hill (Rouse Hill) and Castle Hill held many meetings and finally agreed to the above site as a place to build a church. For many years Catholics in the Castle Hill area had to travel to Baulkham Hills to attend mass. Although Castle Hill became a separate parish in 1970, the real beginning was in 1947 during the administration of Rev Keily, who recognised the future need for a parish in the Castle Hill area. And opened a bank account for the area. Castle Hill parishioners were delighted with this move and commenced fund raising in a most enthusiastic manner supported by their Parish Priest
Rev Joseph Walsh, came to Baulkham Hills as administrator in 1956, being appointed Parish Priest in 1958. Rev Walsh inaugurated the first gift-giving system in 1959 and built a presbytery at Castle Hill in that year. On completion of the presbytery (now the parish house) Rev Walsh moved to Castle Hill. On May 24, 1970 the old St Michael ‘s parish was divided. The new parish of Castle Hill comprised Castle Hill, Dural, West Pennant Hills, Glenhaven and Kenthurst. In 1972 the present parish church was built and blessed.
In 1948 Arthur Meehan, Pat Kavanagh, Ted Munro and Ambrose Roddy met at the home of Thelma and Harry McMullen in Crane Road, Castle Hill to consider the purchase of seven acres (2.83 hectares) of land on Old Northern Road for 3,500 pounds ($7000) or a smaller area for 200 pounds ($400). They had to settle for the smaller parcel of land.
Though still in the parish of St Michael’s the first parish church-school in Castle Hill was built in 1954 and opened June 17, by Cardinal Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney. The building was used as a church for two years becoming a church-school in 1956 when the primary school opened.
During the 1970’s and 1980’s the population of Castle Hill parish continued to grow. It was decided that the outer areas of the parish, Kenthurst, Annangrove, Dural and Glenhaven needed more permanent pastoral care and Catholic primary and secondary schools as present facilities at St Bemadette’s were distant and becoming overcrowded. The pastoral work of the parish increased so much that an additional priest was appointed to assist Rev Walsh until 1988.
The parish continued to grow even though St Madeleine’s parish at Kenthurst had been established in 1988. In 1988 about 6000 Catholics were in the parish; by 1998 the number had grown to 1 1 000. Projections indicate the number could peak at about 12 000 in 2000. Vacant land is fast being converted to housing, with much of the recent housing development in West Pennant Hills, Oakhill and the Knightsbridge Estates.
That growth meant a second priest was still required and Rev Edward Sequeira was appointed Assistant Priest in 1989. When Fr Edward moved to another parish in 1990, Rev Paul Marshal was appointed as Assistant Priest and in 1994 Rev Andrew Robinson became our Assistant Priest. Rev Andrew was moved to another parish in 2000 and Rev John Hogan became our new Assistant Priest. On his appointment as Parish Priest of Richmond, Rev Eugene Szondi became Assistant Priest in February 2002. Rev Robert Sheridan was appointed first Deacon and then second Assistant Priest in October 2004, before moving on to another parish. Rev Sunny Michael, a La Salette Missionary priest was appointed second Assistant Priest in September 2007.
In 1989 after 33 years service to the parish, Rev Walsh retired. The Assistant Priest, Rev David Maguire became Administrator of the parish until 1991 when Rev Anderson was appointed Parish Priest. He served the parish for almost two years before travelling to the USA for further study.
Rev Anderson resigned as Parish Priest in 1992 to continue his studies for a second year and Rev David Maguire was then appointed Parish Priest in August 1993. Fr David led the community till May 2002, when Rev Peter Confeggi took over as administrator.
On Rev Maguire’s resignation as Parish Priest in November 2003, Bishop Manning appointed Rev Wim Hoekstra as the new Parish priest of Castle Hill, effective from January 15, 2003. In August 2006 Rev John Boyle replaced Rev Hoekstra at Castle Hill and was installed as Parish Priest on February 11, 2007. This followed Rev Hoekstra’s resignation and subsequent appointment to Parramatta Parish as Dean of the Cathedral.
In 1993 two part-time Youth Workers were appointed from the parish to administer and lead the youth ministry. A full time Youth Worker began working for the parish in 1998, and through his efforts and those of the young leaders in the community the “Life Teen” programme has become the major focus of youth ministry in the parish, culminating in the Life Teen Mass every Sunday evening at 6 pm.
The Sisters of Mercy at Marymount Mercy Centre and the De La Salle Brothers from Oakhill College have made a significant contribution to the life of the parish and the parishioners over the years. The Christian Brothers cared for and taught the hearing impaired children at St Gabriel’s School for 70 years until they moved in 1994.
1997 was a busy year in the life of St Bernadette’s parish. Substantial school rebuilding and extensions were completed. The project was financed by the Catholic Education Office. The school enrolment policy was revised to provide a fairer means of determining the priority of applications by parents wishing to enrol their children in the parish school. The parish acquired three blocks of land on Old Northern Road adjoining the church-school property. These were consolidated into one block, together with the existing church property and developed into a parish carpark. A successful parish Planned Giving Program was organised for the renovation of the parish church and for carpark extensions.
A Silver Jubilee Fundraising Committee received over $170,00 in donations and funds from various functions, and was used to purchase works of art for the renovated church including the sculpture “Jesus With The Children”, side stained glass windows and doors and various marble stands.
The Church was solemnly dedicated by Bishop Kevin Manning, Bishop of Parramatta; on Sunday December 14, 1997.
Today the parish continues to offer a wide variety of service groups and ministries.
Cranebrook was until the late 70s and 80s, mainly farm blocks and part of St Nicholas of Myra, Penrith. At the beginning of 1982 the Mercy Sisters began their outreach work in the new area setting up open house in Seaton Crescent working with the youth and helping families. Sadly they moved on in 1988 after contributing a wonderful ministry.
Late in 1982, 35 adults and 52 children attended the first Mass, which was celebrated at Braddock. A community breakfast at the home of Geoff and Frances Barratt often followed.
In 1985, a Redemptorist, Rev Tom Ryan, was appointed by Rev John Grady to care for this new community. 1987 saw the arrival of the Franciscan Friars. This was a new stage in the growth of Corpus Christi. The Corpus Christi Parish Centre was opened in June 1987. During the five years of their ministry the friars worked at establishing Corpus Christi in order that it could become a parish in its own right. They developed a deep sense of care and belonging in the small but growing community and Parish status was achieved on February 1, 1992 when Rev Wim Hoekstra was appointed parish priest and remained until 1997 when he moved to Penrith parish.
In 1992 the Loreto Sisters joined the parish, with Sr Maria Welch becoming Pastoral Associate for the next seven years, assisted by Ms Sue Casey, a lay Franciscan. Both contributed enormously to the community spirit of the new parish along with foundation secretary, Clare Debono and voluntary Loreto Sister, Sr Eileen Riley.
Rev Paul Roberts (who had filled in for Fr Wim whilst he was temporarily called to Mt Druitt 1995-1996) was appointed parish priest in 1997 and Sr Rita Fitt, a Good Samaritan Sister was Pastoral Associate from1999 to 2004. A newly structured Parish Team began in 2005 incorporating several part-time roles in specialist areas. The new structure gradually found its feet after our inability to find another Pastoral Associate. A key factor in this transition has been the link, commitment and local knowledge of our Parish Secretary, Mrs Maree Cottee, since 2000. After a long search during which Fr Paul was additionally appointed Director of Vocations for the Diocese the parish welcomed Sr Merylin Browne as the new Pastoral Associate in February 2007. In November 2007 Fr Paul Roberts moved on to North Rocks parish and Rev George O’Mara was appointed Parish Priest.
The parish has two schools; a large vibrant primary school of 600 students, as well as Xavier College, a co-educational high school located nearby, which saw its first group completing the HSC in 2003. 2004 was a big year for Xavier College moving to its permanent site in Ninth Avenue, Llandilo, having lived its first five years in temporary accommodation on the parish site. Mrs Patricia Maidens, dynamic foundation and continuing principal, was supported by Mr Glenn Trefoni, foundation Assistant Principal until late 2005 when he was appointed to McCarthy College. Glenn’s contribution will remain a special part of the fabric of our parish high school’s history.
Our committed band of Catechists visit around 600 students per week in five surrounding State Schools. Senior students from Xavier College and St Dominic’s College are vibrantly involved in Catechetics teaching in two of these schools. As at the close of 2006, Mr Greg Thomas has been our Parish Primary School Principal for four years following the wise and long leadership of Mrs Mary Cook and foundation Principal, Mercy Sister, Sr Mary Lorraine.
Parish worshipping levels took a boost from an average of 460 each week in 1996 to 750 in 2000. This level has thankfully held up at this rate until now in a time when other parishes have experienced some levels of decline. This is largely due to the blessing of the presence of young people choosing to commit to being part of the faith community. We frequently give thanks for the active participation of people from every age grouping across the whole span of life stages and delight in the many friendships forged between older and younger members of our parish. At the same time, the current Pastoral Council is deeply aware that so many in our suburbs do not have a place of rightful belonging in the Church and is reflecting seriously upon ways of creating an increased sense of encouragement and welcome.
Among the insight received from a recent parish survey was the practical faith/life motivation that many parishioners find in the parish mission statement we say together at the close of each weekend Mass and from which we judge all parish initiatives and activities:
“We, the people of Corpus Christi, seek to grow in living a Christ centred mission, sharing our gifts to foster welcome, justice and community in today’s world.”
The parish of St John Vianney, Doonside was established by Rev John Watts in 1961.
Fr John O’Neill is the current Parish Priest of St John Vianney Parish, Doonside, a position he has held since 1983.
The parish at Doonside is testimony to the devotion of the parishioners and their parish priest. From the aesthetics of the church, the establishment of the primary school by the same name and the deep faith of his parishioners, St John Vianney Parish is a magnet for attracting young men and women to a life of Christ-like servant leadership.
Until 1960, the region of Dundas and Carlingford had only a small population and was integrated into the parish of Rydalmere. In 1955, the Housing Commission commenced development in Dundas Valley and the building of the original St Bernadette’s School began in 1958. In 1960, Dundas and Carlingford branched off from Rydalmere to form a single new parish based in Dundas Valley with masses held in the scout hall on Pennant Hills Road.
On March 1, 1963 Dundas Valley was proclaimed a parish with parishioners numbering 4000, about the same as now. Support for the building project was strong, so much so that the Archdiocese and lending institution loaned the entire amount for building the church £43,000.
The first Mass held was Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve 1964 and St Bernadette’s Church was officially opened by Cardinal Gilroy on the first Sunday in January 1965.
Our parish is still in the process of developing a pastoral plan for the next five years to both nurture and nourish the Catholic people living in our parish.
In December 2004, the Friars of St Francis took up residence and began refurbishing the church both inside and out. With the help of the Friars and many generous parishioners albeit by donations and/ or their time, the church was painted and repaired, the floor sanded and polished and a new Grotto was built, new artwork and landscaping of the exterior gardens.
Our parishioner numbers have continued to increase – more than doubling since 2004. Parishioner participation in works and apostolates have also increased.
Land on which the church and school are built was a Government grant in 1860. Emu Plains was part of the Penrith parish.
Rev J. Fitzpatrick, Parish Priest of Penrith (1948 – 1964) purchased land on the highway (opposite Hawkesbury Fruit Market) for later resale to fund the building of a church at Emu Plains.
Rev Kevin Hannan was appointed the first Parish Priest of Emu Plains in January 1974. He lived at the presbytery at St Benedict’s, Broadway and would stay in a hotel in Penrith each Saturday night to say Mass in Melrose Hall on the Sunday morning, then return to Broadway. Following his first Sunday at Emu Plains, Fr Hanna returned to Broadway and put the collection proceeds away only to have it stolen by an intruder.
Fr Faye from Glenbrook Parish owned a house in Moore Street, Glenbrook, which had become vacant and allowed Fr Hannan to live there, several months after his appointment to Emu Plains.
The building known as ‘the cottage’ was purchased from Mrs Walker; and a small one-room building (with verandah), on the north side of ‘the cottage’ was later purchased by the parish in 1975. Mass was said there on Holy Days and other occasions and this building became known as ‘the Cathedral’. The house and land at 15 Troy Street, (presently serving as the parish office) was purchased at auction, by Mr Len Clarke on behalf of the parish, after the owner refused to sell it outright to the church.
The bricks used for the external walls of the church (now parish hall) came from St Patrick’s Blacktown, which was being demolished. Pat and Rob O’Brien were employed a s truck drivers by Mr Glen Graham of Lapstone who kindly allowed them the use of his vehicles to drive to Blacktown early on Sunday mornings to pick up the bricks. These were hand loaded and unloaded and cleaned by volunteer parishioners and stored behind ‘the cottage’.
The church was designed by Matt Gooden and built by J. W. Broomhead with Ken Birks as supervisor on site. Pews were obtained from Kingswood parish. Again a group of men went down and loaded them onto borrowed trucks after work on several evenings. Other pews were obtained by similar means from North Sydney.
The church was opened and blessed by Cardinal Freeman on November 21, 1976.
A need for a school in the parish was obvious. A kindergarten class at St Nicholas School, Penrith in 1978 became Year One of our new school in 1979, together with a kindergarten. Classes were held in the church at first until Stage 1 of the school was opened. Stage 2 followed and finally the double storey building completed the Primary School. Matt Gooden designed all stages and Peter Hendrix Pty Ltd, the builder. A senior high school was established in Mackellar Street and the first intake of students took place in 1986. In 1999 Caroline Chisholm and St Dominic’s College became Year 7 – 12 schools and McCarthy Senior High School became McCarthy Catholic College and expanded from a Year 11 & 12 senior high school to a Years 7 – 12 co-educational college.
Student Priest Rev Tony Abbott, arrived for ‘work experience’ in 1985 and remained until 1986. Rev Hannan was appointed inaugural Vicar General of the newly established Parramatta Diocese in 1986 and served until June, 1991. He retired as Parish Priest in 1997 after 23 years. Rev Paul Roberts acted as administrator for several months, until the appointment of Rev Geoff Dickinson later in the year. Fr Dickinson retired in 2003 and Rev Christopher Sharah was administrator until the appointment of Rev Bob Anderson as parish priest in January 2004.
In the early 1900s, Catholics in the lower mountains worshipped at Penrith. In 1911 the re-routing of the railway line round Glenbrook brought with it a large number of workers and their families. To begin with mass was said on week mornings in a cottage occupied by Fr James Sheridan, (parish priest of Penrith 1892 – 1900), on the site now occupied by the RAAF at Lapstone. Mass was also said in the home of Mr and Mrs Wood and in the Glenbrook School of Arts.
St Finbar’s Church was built by Rev Thomas Barlow (parish priest of Penrith) at a cost of £200 – £300 ($400 -$600). The Church was blessed and opened by Archbishop Michael Kelly in August 1912. The architect was Mr Charles Fowler. Mr Norrie donated the land for the church and Mr Nolan donated the Stations of the Cross. When the railway line was completed in 1913 many of the workers left and by 1917 there were less than twelve people worshipping at St Finbar’s.
The population gradually increased and in 1928 a petition by parishioners for more frequent masses led to the church being transferred from Penrith to Springwood and the priests were to be supplied from St Columba’s Seminary. Mass was to be said each fortnight and transport was to be provided for the priests. The first Mass under this arrangement was Sunday, October 7, 1928. (The collection for October of that year was £3.0.0 ($6). By Feb/ March the collection had risen to £22.13.3 (approx. $45.30).
The Parish of Glenbrook was established in 1965 and Rev Danny Fay was appointed Parish Priest. Under his guiding hand a new church/hall was built and blessed and opened on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1966 by Rt Rev Monsignor T. Veech. Rev Fay was farewelled on July 8, 1990 and Rev Alex Sciberras arrived on July 15, 1990. Rev Larkey was responsible for having the new church of St Finbar’s built and the dedication took place on May 7, 1995, the ceremony being conducted by the Most Rev Bede V. Heather, DD,LSS.
Rev Peter Dowd took over from Rev Larkey on March 1, 1997. The parish said goodbye to Rev Dowd on August 8, 1999 and on August 16, 1999 Rev John McSweeney was appointed Parish Priest. Rev McSweeney was officially installed by Bishop Kevin Manning on September 5, 1999.
During Rev McSweeney’s absence on continuous full time duty for the Royal Australian Navy in 2003, Rev Kevin Lee was Parish Administrator for nine months from April until December. Fr John was reappointed parish priest for a further six years in August 2005.
In August 2006 work commenced on a new presbytery with completion in April 2007. Bishop Kevin Manning blessed the new residence in March 2008 and Fr Maurice McNamara moved in to the downstairs unit after his retirement from Windsor Parish in April 2008. During Fr John’s long-service leave in 2008, Rev Joseph Thomas was appointed administrator.
In 2012 the parish undertook the renovation of the parish hall (the original Church built by Fr Fay).
On 16th August 2012 Rev Wim Hoekstra was appointed as the new parish priest of Glenbrook and Fr McSweeney was transferred to become Parish Priest and Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
Fr Wim was installed as Parish Priest on 18 November 2012 by Bishop Anthony Fisher, 3rd Bishop of Parramatta, who also blessed and officially opened the Father Thomas Barlow Centre, the original church built in 1912 which had been renovated by St Finbar’s School.
The parish began as a parochial district affiliated with St Nicholas of Myra Parish at Penrith, NSW, in the early 1990s.
It is one of the many parishes that have evolved from Penrith Parish since it was created in 1839.
A Redemptorist brother, Br Vin Dale CSsR, knocked on the doors of new homebuilders in the Glenmore Park area in the late 1980s, introducing himself and inviting the Catholics to form a worship community.
Br Dale’s efforts were supported by Fr Neville Byrne, a Marist priest who continued the ‘hands on’ ministry and spiritual leadership of Br Dale, advising the people that Mass was being celebrated in the area, and so the expression ‘the Church below the rooftops’ came to be.
Most Rev Bede Heather DD, the first Bishop of Parramatta, later appointed the Loreto Sisters to the pastoral care of the fledgling community, and their ministry led to the development of many ministries that support our Eucharistic community.
The community was in the pastoral care of Sr Margaret Finlay IBVM, Sr Margaret O’Sullivan IBVM and Sr Denise Braddon IBVM, and under the canonical supervision of the Parish Priest of Penrith.
Bethany Catholic Primary was built for the Glenmore Park area to educate all who wanted a Catholic education for their children. Caroline Chisholm College occupies the same site and was the forerunner of this tradition, being established many years earlier to educate young ladies of the area.
The Glenmore Park Catholic community began the canonical process of becoming a separate parish financially and was deemed to be in a position to build a parish church, presbytery and offices in 2004.
That same year, Most Rev Kevin Manning DD, the second Bishop of Parramatta, appointed Rev Kevin Lee as Administrator and entrusted him with the sacramental and pastoral care of the community and building up the body of Christ expressed in the Glenmore Park area.
On 1 July 2005, the Parochial District of Glenmore Park was canonically approved by Bishop Manning to be a parish known as Padre Pio Parish. On 14 August 2005, Bishop Manning appointed Rev Lee as Parish Priest.
After many years of fundraising, Mass was celebrated in the new church of Padre Pio just before Christmas 2009. This church was officially dedicated to our patron saint, Padre Pio, by Bishop Manning on 14 February 2010.
Fr Lee departed the parish in April 2012.
On 1 May 2012, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, the third Bishop of Parramatta, appointed Right Rev Monsignor Robert McGuckin VG EV Administrator of the parish.
On 23 May 2012, Bishop Anthony Fisher OP appointed Fr Robert Riedling Parish Priest of Padre Pio Parish.
The parish of St John XXII was established on October 6, 2002. Geographically the parish includes the suburbs of Glenwood, Stanhope Gardens, Parklea, Newbury and Kellyville Ridge.
When the parish started, the community first gathered for Sunday Eucharist in the library at Holy Cross Primary School, on Meurants Lane, Glenwood. In the pioneering days the focus was the building up of the faith community and the building of the church. Construction of our new church was completed in March 2007 and formally dedicated to God’s glory on the 2nd June 2007.
The new church is located on Perfection Avenue, Stanhope Gardens. On the same parish site we have a Primary school, John XXIII which opened in 2005 and St Mark’s Catholic Secondary College which opened in 2007.
The parish of St John XXIII is a faith community with the Eucharist as its heart. Inspired by St John XXIII’s prophetic opening of the windows of the Church, we welcome the fresh air of the Holy Spirit, inviting every person to share in the responsibility of enriching the life and faith of our community by sharing their gifts and talents.
Holy Cross Parish, Granville was created on 14 September 2020 – the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross – as a result of the merger of Holy Trinity Parish, Granville and Holy Family Parish, East Granville.
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, created the parish under the provisions in Canon Law 515 §2.
Granville – Holy Trinity Parish (Est 1886)
The first Holy Trinity Church was used from October 1880 with an expanded completion enabling a congregation of 200 by 1882. It officially became a parish in 1886 incorporating Granville, Harris Park, Merrylands, Guildford & East Granville. Mary MacKillop established the Sisters of St Joseph in Granville from 1885.
The second Holy Trinity Church on the Corner of Randle & Grimwood Streets was opened in 1907 and burned almost immediately. It was reopened in 1908 and remained the church until the present War Memorial Church was opened in 1965. After extensive heritage renovation, the 1907/1908 church (which had become known as ‘the brown hall’) was reopened in 2008 and renamed MacKillop Hall.
Guildford became a separate parochial district in 1933, followed by Harris Park in 1940 and finally by Merrylands and East Granville in 1946.
The Patrician Brothers arrived in 1942 to open their regional primary and high school. The high school took on co-educational status from 1998 and was named Delany College after the founder of the Patrician Brothers. The patrician charism continues at Delany and whilst only one brother remains on staff the Province takes an active interest in supporting and encouraging Delany’s spiritual fruits. Of note at Delany today is the large Catholic Intensive English Centre which assists many new arrivals to Australia to become competent in their language and way of life here.
The parish will always owe a great debt of gratitude to the influence of the Josephite Sisters and patrician Brothers in its story. The Vietnamese Sisters of mary Queen have now had a presence in Granville since 1977 and occupy both the former Josephite Convent and former Patrician Monastery.
Holy Trinity Parish is marked today by a richly diverse inclusion of people and many cultures; people who together represent a microcosm of the world and who in life and worship together hold such potential to reflect the dream of Jesus: ‘Father, may they be one as you and I are one’.
Granville East – Holy Family Parish (Est 1946)
The parish of Holy Family, East Granville owes its beginnings to Rev John Haplin of the mother parish of Holy Trinity who was responsible for gathering the faithful in the Trongate section of Granville Parish. The Mass Centre at GEPA Hall, the Trongate, (rented since May 1936) was purchased in January 1937 for 300 pounds. In February 1938 the St Joseph’s Convent School opened in the hall with the Sisters of St Joseph in charge, coming from Granville each day.
The Holy Family Parish was established in November 1946 with Rev John Kerrigan as first Parish Priest and Les Campion, later to be Parish Priest of Granville, as an altar boy.
On Sunday, January 27, 1952 Cardinal Gilroy blessed and laid the foundation stone of the new Church/ School and a year later, he repeated the ceremony for the foundation of the Holy Family Church.
The parish has expanded over the years with school extensions & shy; classrooms and a tuckshop. A new convent was built in 1970 and in 1972, Cardinal Freeman blessed and laid the foundation stone of the Assembly Hall. Ten years later he opened a new Parish House.
The Catholic community at Greystanes has worshipped in the area since 1836 when they were part of the large Parramatta parish established by Archbishop Polding. In 1946 they became part of the new parish of Wentworthville and in 1958, among chicken farms and market gardens, a primary school and Mass centre were built. The high school was started in 1962.
The parish of Our Lady Queen of Peace was established in 1972 with Fr Duggan as the first parish priest. He was succeeded a year later by Fr Darmenia who, with a dedicated group of parishioners, built the church, which opened in 1975. Fr Galway together with his assistant Fr Sciberras continued the work of developing the parish.
The church was blessed and opened by His Eminence Sir James Darcy Cardinal Freeman on 20 April 1975. After extensive renovations it was solemnly dedicated by Bishop Bede Heather on 7 July 1996.
For 10 years until 1994 the brothers and sisters of St Gerard Majella built on these foundations. Sadly, this was also a time of pain and grief for some because of the offences of a few.
From 1994 till his retirement in 2010, Fr Gerry Iverson, in collaboration with the Parish Team and Pastoral Council, encouraged and welcomed the sharing of the various rich gifts of parishioners, which promote and enhance parish ministries. Fr Gerry died in 2012.
The current Parish Priest, Fr Bob Bossini, is assisted by Fr Suresh Kumar MSFS, Deacon Leon Decena and the Parish Team.
In 1909 it was announced that the Guildford Roman Catholics had decided to build a church. The building was dedicated to St Patrick and blessed by Bishop Kelly on April 2, 1910. It was used by the Sisters of St Joseph as a school. The parish was established in 1933 and a new church blessed and opened on August 8, 1935. A new sacristy and sanctuary were added in 1979.
A small church/school, St Paul’s was opened at Villawood in 1954 and became a station church to Guildford until 1986 when the Diocese was established. St Paul’s remained in Sydney diocese and became part of Villawood parish.
In 1977, St Patrick’s Primary School was completed and blessed. Basketball and tennis courts were added in 1995. Completion of the extensions to the school and the Blessing took place in December 2000.
The history of the church in Harris Park is unusual. In his Will, Jack McCreedie, a wealthy merchant and amateur astronomer, decreed that no portion of his land at Harris Park should ever become associated with Catholicism. However, in 1926, when his home and land went up for auction, a group of Catholics including Rev Dr Sheey, Granville Parish Priest, got together and with a well-supported campaign raised the money to buy the mansion and land. McReedie’s mansion became the convent and juniorate for those considering becoming nuns and was dedicated Mary’s Mount. When the Convent was established plans were made for building a church and school on adjacent land and the foundation stone was laid in October 1929.
The first Mass was celebrated on Christmas Day 1929. In 1930 the school/church, dedicated to Blessed Oliver Plunkett, an Irish martyr, opened its doors. Blessed Oliver was canonised in 1976 and so the parish became St Oliver’s. Over the years many changes have taken place at Harris Park.
In 1967, a carpenter was employed to make several renovations to Mary’s Mount. One day, from a dismantled fireplace he unearthed a broken bottle.
Securely and secretly tucked away in a section of the glass bottle was a piece of parchment-like paper wrapped around the tiny statues of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and the Sacred Heart. Where McCreedie once ruled supreme and tried to assert his will from the grave, a new generation of the devout interpret this emergence as a direct result of prayer, especially that first one in the bottle.
Before Kellyville became a parish it formed part of the parish of St Michael’s Baulkham Hills. In the early 50s, the then Parish Priest, Rev J J Deely, saw a need for a church in this area and purchased the land on Windsor Road. The church was blessed and opened on March 10, 1957 by Cardinal Gilroy. Prior to this, Mass was celebrated in the Memorial Hall and Housie nights were held to raise money for the building of the church.
The Order of Friars Minor Conventual (Conventual Franciscans) moved to Kellyville in 1968 and purchased a house and land on Windsor Road in order to establish itself within the Archdiocese of Sydney as it was then. They were given care of Our Lady of the Rosary, Kellyville, when it was declared a parish on March 8, 1970 with Rev Leonard Testa as the first Parish Priest. The parish bulletin that day read: “Today is the Foundation Day of the parish of Kellyville. It is the beginning of the new era in the spiritual life of the Catholics of this area, bringing with it special privileges and duties for all parishioners. With God’s blessing and the wholehearted support and co-operation of everyone, we can become a strong active parish.”
The Church was moved from Windsor to Diana Avenue in 1976 under the direction of the then Parish Priest, Rev Maximilian Balabanski. In 1983 the new church was opened and consecrated by Cardinal Freeman. In 1995 the parish celebrated its 25th anniversary. With the expansion of the parish there are now two primary schools, Our lady of the Rosary Kellyville and St Angela’s Castle Hill. 2008 sees the 25th Anniversary of the church’s consecration and the division of the new Rouse Hill Parish.
The parish of North Parramatta began evangelising this area in the 1860s and 70s. On occasions, the priest would travel to Kenthurst to say Mass in the home of the Blake family at 96 Kenthurst Road.
In 1905, the Society of the Sacred Heart bought 40 acres of land in Kenthurst Road for a convent and farm school. The plans were never carried out and all but one acre was sold in 1917. Meanwhile, a little stone church had been built on this plot. In 1913, it was blessed and opened in the name of the Blessed Madeleine Sophie Barat (not canonised until 1925).
In 1960, a fibro house was purchased at Dural, converted to a Mass Centre and named in honour of St Joseph.
By the early 1980s, it became clear that both churches were too small for the growing communities. Kenthurst Parish was cut off from Castle Hill in 1988. In 1985, 20 acres was purchased in Annangrove Road from the descendants of the Blake family and building began in late 1986.
On this, our new home, we have built one of the prettiest parish community centres around. Our primary school has a large playground and wonderful facilities. The high school enjoys both worlds of bush setting and modern high-tech amenities. People remark on the beauty of our site, hidden as it is from roads and traffic and tucked into some wonderful native bushland. But more remarkable is the friendliness of the community.
It may be something with the nature of the district where people living on acreage love to gather at church or schoolyard and exchange yarns, or it may be that people around here are just about the most friendly and generous people you could meet.
We are named in honour of St Madeleine Sophie Barat, the founder of the Order of Sacred Heart Sisters. Many of the names recorded in our baptism register are Madeleine and Sophie. The Pastor, Chris Dixon, considers himself lucky to have been involved with the parish from the start, but he came after Anna Conway RSM whose nourishing personality and tireless visitation began the community’s authorship of its own parish identity.
There are some significant personalities who have been involved in the site over the years. They include Fr Ed Sequiera, who organised the first Country Fair and promised the people it would be a sunny day even though rain was forecast and it had been raining for a month; needless to say it was a beautiful sunny day!
Colin Donges was the voice in the community who argued well for a people-centred place and not a bricks and mortar extravaganza. Michael Maher and Alan Brush were heavily involved in the planning and oversight of the development.
Everyone loved Fr Arthur Vojtowicz; his enthusiasm and his stories are outnumbered by memories of him riding around the parish on his pushbike.
Fr Ian McGinnity enriched us with some wonderful encouragement for a couple of years and in his short stay, Zvonimir Gavranovic knocked on a lot of doors.
Trish Spencer and Mary Agnew were the engine room of the parish for many years working in the Parish Office. Everybody knew them as the first friendly and helpful face of the place.
Our present secretary, Maria Hodgkinson, fast became a legend in service to the community.
In 1963, Rev John Fitzpatrick, Parish Priest of Penrith, realised his dream of building an ‘out’ church at Kingswood to cater for the needs of the relatively new and rapidly growing suburbs.
St Joseph’s was blessed by Cardinal Gilroy on 10 February. Rev Geoff Dickinson was a curate at Penrith, and remembers saying ‘very many Masses’ at the new church.
The site for the church/ school was part of an original grant to Samuel Foster. In 1907 Gustav and Tess Klein purchased the land on which St Joseph’s was built as part of a five-acre property where the family resided until it was sold to the Catholic Church in the early 1960s. The school was officially opened in 1963 with 225 pupils from Kindergarten to Year Five.
With the appointment of Rev Basil Rosen in 1970, a period of enormous growth began. He was horrified at conditions in the school and immediately took steps to remedy the situation, resulting in the opening of new comfortable modern brick buildings. The Sisters of St Joseph taught in the school from 1963 to 1981 when dwindling numbers and fewer vocations caused their withdrawal.
St Joseph’s has seen many changes in its 33 years. Kingswood has emerged from a country village to a high density growth district. To help this community meet the exciting challenges towards 2000 and beyond, upon the retirement of Fr Basil in 1995, Rev Zvonimir Gavranovic was appointed the second Parish Priest of Kingswood.
During Fr Zvonimir’s six-year period, between 1995 and 2001 he accomplished many things for Kingswood Parish. He built up a parish community based upon friendliness and openness and established a Catechist Team for the State Schools as well as a Catechumenate Team. Other projects he established in order to bring the community together are the Hospitality after Mass, the Dinner for 8 and Christmas get-together for the helpers and ministeries in the parish. He saw a need for a Parish Mission and in May 2001, a Mission was given by the Redemptorists. During this time many parishioners faith was renewed and strengthened helping the parish to develop into a growing and fulfilling community with a bright future.
In February 2002, Rev Paul Hopper CSSp was appointed as the third Parish priest of Kingswood. Fr Paul spent 20 years in West Africa as a Spiritan Missionary. Evangelisation and Community building are dear to his heart. The RCIA team has a number of new faces, the Children’s Sacraments team now encourage greater parent involvement. There are now three parish cells. This year we are blessed with the involvement of Robert Reidling a seminarian for Parramatta Diocese.
SCAAPA is the invention of the Social Committee, a very active community building group. It is our good fortune to have many active and committed parishioners.
On the 23rd October 2005 St Joseph celebrated its 35th Anniversary. The celebrations fittingly started with Mass celebrated by Bishop Kevin Manning. After Mass there was a great buzz around the grounds as people met for a cuppa and a slice of cake. The sound of happy children filled the air. At 2.30 in the afternoon 140 adults and 45 children went for a family fun-day of cricket, skipping rope, jumping castle, fairy floss etc. with singing, dancing raffles and a spectacular meal. Great to see a parish worship and having fun together – being community – all in the same day. To commemorate the parish’s 35thAnniversary a beautiful grotto to Mary the Mother of God was built and parish Marian Devotions are held here.
For many years the parish tried to answer the call to evangelisation made by all the popes since Vatican II. Rev Paul Hopper initiated the Cells program, which saw parishioners actively involved in the seven basic Christian evangelising communities.
Upon the departure of Rev Paul Hopper CSSp in January, 2012, St Joseph’s was placed under the care of the the Parish Priest of St Nicholas Of Myra in Penrith. We warmly welcomed Rev Christopher De Souza and Rev Mathew Antony MS, who celebrated weekly mass at Kingswood and administered our parish, throughout 2012. Despite the challenges of not having our own priest, the parish and ministries continued to flourish, due to the dedication and hard work from many of our parishioners.
In Jan 2013, Rev Andrew Fornal OP was appointed the fourth Parish Priest at Kingswood.
In 1958 people had moved into houses built by the Housing Commission. They were built on the north side of Lucas Road, bounded by Johnson Avenue, Vardys Road, Sunnyholt Road and Stephens Street, running up to Sackville Street.
Father O’Connor was the Parish Priest of Seven Hills and people of Lalor Park had to go to the Community Hall at Artillery Crescent, Seven Hills for Mass.
The Sydney Morning Herald of January 9, 1961 described the Housing Commission site 2364 (Lalor Park) as ‘the suburb in need of a soul’. The story noted: ‘The Roman Catholics hire a bus to take some of Lalor Park’s 500 Catholic families to Mass at Seven Hills. A £25,000 Catholic school –cum Church, will be completed next month. There is certainly room for plenty of progress to be made.”
There were no buses and the railway station at Seven Hills, had a level crossing and boom gates.
In February 1961 Lalor Park separated from the mother parish of Seven Hills. Rev Hugh Leonard , was appointed by Cardinal Gilroy as the founding Pastor of Lalor Park and set about building a church/school. All the classrooms were mobile partitioned for quick changeover into a church on the weekend. The parish had a debt of $50000 and a ‘postage stamp’ block to build parish facilities.
Where the new Parish centre is now (14 Wheeler Street), Fr Leonard bought a fibro house and had erected for his own use as a presbytery and the various ministries of the parish.
The Sisters of St Joseph would come from Baulkham Hills Novitiate to teach at St Bernadette’s Parish School. In December 1963 a convent was built for the Sisters to live on site. With the population expanding, a parish and school assembly hall was built in 1971 and two kindergarten classrooms were added in 1980.
Rev Tim Crowley was appointed as Assistant Priest by Cardinal Gilroy as the parish had grown quickly. Fr Crowley was then appointed as a hospital chaplain and there were a succession of other assistant priests – Fr Hannan, Fr Foley, Fr Stephens and Fr Rooney.
Fr Leonard heard that the Housing Commission was going to build on the land where the present church and presbytery are built. He used his influence and connections to buy land for the parish. Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of St Bernadette’s new church in 2006 might not have happened but for the intervention of the Holy Spirit.
The site now occupied by the church and presbytery has always thought to be part of the reserve that borders the school and extends from Wheeler Street through to Venn Avenue and beyond. In the early 1960’s and long before construction of the oval and flood retention basin, the only reasonably flat area for St Bernadette’s football teams to train on, was the area in question.
However to everyone’s dismay, foundation bricks and house frames were dropped onto the area. The Housing Commission had contracted for the erection of three houses on the site. Imagine the panic and consternation! Houses on ‘our’ football practice ground ! And to be built immediately adjoining the church and school.
Plenty of prayers, novenas by theNuns, consultation by Fr Leonard with the Archbishop (the parish was still in Sydney Diocese) and no doubt meetings with friendly members of Parliament and the Housing Commission followed. The result was the purchase of the land by the Diocese. Finally the parish had a site that our church and presbytery now occupies.
Fr Leonard was then appointed to Croydon Parish. People were sad to see him go as he had started the parish. There is no doubt that the untiring work of the 1st Pastor Fr Hugh, together with the support of the assistant priests and Srs of St Joseph (encouraged by the Catholic Community), made a significant contribution both spiritually and socially to the new area.
Fr Tim Crowley was appointed Parish Priest in 1979 by Cardinal Freeman and then proceeded to build a new church and presbytery which were completed in 1981. The church was solemnly dedicated under the title of St Bernadette by Bishop Bede Heather, (Bishop for the outer western region of the Sydney Archdiocese) on September 27, 1981. The architect of the church was Mr Tony Battah. The new church was built to accommodate 450 parishioners.
“The new St Bernadette’s has a most original design. It slopes steeply upwards at one end to signify our rise to spirituality. Colourful stained glass windows and a large cross outside the building make it a prominent landmark. Over the altar is a statue of the Eternal Priest, Jesus Christ.” (Catholic Weekly 1981).
In 1984 there was a distastrous fire at the school, which had to be completely rebuilt. In August 1989 the Daily Telegraph reported: “Lalor Park is a quiet area with good schools, great transport and ideal for young families.”
The new parish centre was built in 1991 with a self contained flat for a priest to stay. During Fr Tim Crowley’s time as Parish Priest (1979 – 2002) the parish had the following assistant priests: Fr Dias, Fr Paul Hollis, Fr Graham James, Fr Fowler, Fr Fernandes, Fr Zvonimir Gavranovic, Fr John Goulding, Fr Kevin Walsh, Fr Henry Duc and deacons Gabor Szabo and Joseph Formosa.
When it was proposed that the North West sector be developed for private housing, it seemed reasonable to extend the boundary of St Bernadette’s Parish from Meurants Lane to the intersection of Sunnyholt Road and Old Windsor Road. This suggestion was accepted by the diocese and the boundaries were changed to meet the pastoral needs of this new area, which is now known as Glenwood.
It was proposed that land be bought in the vicinity of what is now the intersection of Glenwood Park Drive and Forman Avenue. Here a Catholic Primary School would be built together with an imaginatively planned multi-purpose building to double as a parish hall and church, much as happens in expanding areas of the United States. This plan would not come to fruition as a second Primary School was built on Meurants Lane.
Now there were two Catholic Primary schools in the parish. While Holy Cross was on the drawing board, the pupils of Holy Cross were accommodated in portable classrooms at St Bernadette’s. In October 2002, Glenwood would be cut off from Lalor Park, and a new parish established, Glenwood-Stanhope Gardens, under the title of John XXIII and the boundaries of St Bernadette’s were restored to their original position.
In the sports and cultural areas over the years the Inskip family were the backbone of our girl’s netball. Brian Williams, Jimmy Boys, Keith Boiden, John Fields, Fr Crowley for football; Sheridan boys for cricket and the Field family for the band ‘Cockroaches’ and the now world famous ‘Wiggles’.
Lalor Park used to have the nicknames of Nappy Valley and Dodge City for the number of babies and outstanding credit owed. ‘Housie’ has played a great part in financing the parish. It started on a Friday night in St Patrick’s parish hall, Patrick Street, Blacktown and then transferred to St Bernadette’s parish hall and continued for 38 years, until it finally ceased in September 2000.
On Saturday November 3, 2001 the parish celebrated a combined 100 years of St Bernadette’s, Lalor Park; (40 years – parish & school; 30 years – hall; 20 years – consecration of 2nd church; 10 years – parish centre). The Centenary Liturgy on the Saturday was followed by a Dinner Dance. The Mass was a deeply moving and memorable experience. The efforts of the choir and musicians was exceptionally beautiful, as was the symbolism used both with the proclamation of the Gospel and Offertory Procession. The Dinner Dance was a great success, the food terrific, band great and the company exceptional. The sense of community and belonging was evident during the Centenary Celebrations.
Fr Tim Crowley retired after 23 years of Pastoral Ministry as Parish Priest at St Bernadette’s Lalor Park. Rev Andrew Robinson was appointed the third parish Priest on June 2, 2002 by Bishop Kevin Manning, Bishop of Parramatta.
The parish during 2006 celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the building and dedication of their second church. The celebrations started on Friday September 15, 2006 with a Jubilee Mass for St Bernadette’s School.
The 6pm Vigil Mass, 8.30am and 10.00am Masses included a Powerpoint Reflection – A Journey Remembered, new Jubilee Hymn of St Bernadette with graphics and the ministry of the parish choir and musicians. The parish Youth Group dramatised the Gospel at the 6pm Vigil Mass. A Dinner Dance was held in the parish hall, which was attended by 198 past and present parishioners. Fathers Andrew Robinson, Tim Crowley, former pastor Zvonimir Gavronovic and Peter Woodward were present for the Dinner Dance. Also present were Tony and Elaine Battah (Tony Battah was the architect of the second church).
After the 10.00am Mass there was a cutting of the Anniversary cake by Frs Tim Crowley and Andrew Robinson. At all masses parishioners received a Commemorative Holy Card with the image of the parish statue of St Bernadette on one side and a Commemorative Message on the reverse side of the card.
St Bernadette’s Parish – Vision Statement
‘ The Parish of St Bernadette’s strives to be a vibrant, active Catholic community, that is welcoming and nurturing to all and celebrates being a People of God, with Christ as the model.’
The Catholics of Lawson commenced working towards having their own church in the 1890’s and in 1903, Cardinal Moran blessed and opened the result of their efforts; a small but adequate wooden building dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians. For all of this time the area was part of Katoomba Parish.
Mass was celebrated at Lawson on one Sunday per month by priests from Katoomba. Early in 1928, Mr Richard Meagher offered his Lawson property ‘Durham Lodge’ as the site for a new church. The church Our Lady of the Nativity is in fact a memorial to his wife Alice Meagher, who died in 1923. It was her idea to use the property for religious purposes, including a church.
The local Catholics, led by Mr Wilfred Lillis, were enthusiastic about the proposal and expressed their desire to have a school established as well as a church. Rev St Clair Bridge was eventually won over to support the project, after initial objections and Archbishop Kelly gave his approval.
The Sisters of the Good Samaritan who have been continuously associated with Lawson for more than 60 years, undertook to staff the proposed school. Money was donated by Mr Meagher and the Archbishop; plans were prepared by Mr Austin McKay and Mr B. G. Lambert was awarded the contract. The Foundation Stone of the new church was blessed and laid by His Eminence Cardinal Ceretti, on October 21, 1928. The completed church was blessed by Archbishop Kelly on April 7, 1929. Lawson became a separate parish with Rev Patrick Conway as the first parish priest.
The school began operating at the same time in the original 1903 church building, which was moved from its original site. A boarding school and normal day classes included High School classes to Intermediate Level. The school has been updated and extended over the years and today is staffed entirely by lay people. The Good Samaritan Sisters now manage the Santa Maria Centre, a fine stone house also donated to the church by Mr Meagher. During 2009 it also housed three novices during their studies.
In 1947, Leura was divided from Lawson. Leura and Wentworth Falls formed a new parish. In 1965 the church was enhanced by the addition of a Sanctuary and Vestry to replace the original temporary wooden structures.
The Sisters of St Joseph maintained a community in the parish until 1979. The building they occupied was sold to a covenanted ecumenical community in 2002, except for one small cottage which remains for the use of the sisters.
Fr Conway’s administration ended in 1952. Following him were Rev G. Humphrey, Rev F. Martin, Rev P. Farrelly and Rev C. Hatton. For 6 years after Fr Hatton’s departure, Lawson did not have a resident priest and the possibility of closure or amalgamation was raised. Mass continued to be celebrated, regularly on both Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Priests during this period included Rev P Morrissey, Rev Eugene Stockton, Rev Reginald Keating SM, Rev Geoff Plant OFM, Rev Finian Perkins OFM, and Rev J. McCulloch.
In November 1986, Rev Anthony Reynolds was appointed administrator and formally installed as Parish Priest in 1989 until 1994. The parish was then serviced by the priests of the Upper Blue Mountains Parish until Rev Theo Arrivoli took up the position of Parish Priest in February 1998.
In 1999 a new parish office and meeting room was built adjacent to the church. The presbytery was restored and refurbished in 2000.
The first recorded presence of a church was the block of land at Greendale, given to the Church in 1818 by Mr George Wentworth. A timber church erected on the site was in regular use until 1893. From 1848 until 1874 a Catholic school was in operation at this Greendale site.
In 1892, Fr Sheridan, Parish Priest of Penrith, built St Mary’s Mulgoa Church on land given by Mr Stephen. Fr Sheridan recommended that the church bell from the Greendale church be hung in St Mary’s, Mulgoa. It was eventually stolen in 1982 and never recovered.
After Mulgoa was consolidated in 1900, a new Catholic family formed in Luddenham. In 1912 St Francis Xavier’s church at Luddenham was built on land given by the Anschau family.
Priests from Camden and Penrith met the needs of these churches during these times. From 1934 – 1942, Sydney experienced a record drought. To augment the water supply essential for Sydney, the Water Board built a 15m high weir at Warragamba in 1937. The present dam was officially opened in 1960.
By 1951 with the rise of the Water Board town, Warragamba saw the need for a new parish. This parish became known as Warragamba in 1951 and included the churches of Mulgoa and Luddenham and those particular villages along with the villages of Wallacia, Greendale, Bringelly, Badger’s Creek and Silverdale, all in an area of over 400 sq.km.
Rev Thomas Everard was the first Parish Priest of Warragamba. Fr Everard purchased the cinema (formerly the Town Hall) of the Warragamba township and had it transported in three sections to be reassembled in its present location. On Sunday November 23, 1952, the Sacred Heart Church at Warragamba was blessed and officially opened by Bishop Lyons.
In 1990 the old St Francis Xavier Church site on Northern Road, Luddenham was sold to the Federal Government as a result of the decision being made to build the proposed second airport for Sydney at nearby Badgery’s Creek.
On Saturday June 9, 1991 the graves from St Francis Xavier Church, Luddenham were moved to the Greendale Catholic Cemetery and the Church (built in 1912) was dismantled. The contents of the church were moved to the chapel at Greendale.
The sale of the land enabled the purchase of 9 acres at Willowdene Avenue, Luddenham from the Wilmington family. Construction of the Holy Family Centre Church and School was commenced on the initiative of the local dairy farmers and finally blessed and opened by Bishop Bede heather and Rev John Evans on October 28, 1996.
In 1997, Fr John Evans announced his retirement after 28 years as Parish Priest. In July 1997 Rev Paul Marshall was appointed Parish Priest. On Christmas day 2001, the old presbytery at Weir Road, Warragamba and the Bargain Centre adjacent were destroyed by the fire which raged out of control from the Burrogevang Valley.
Fifty Year Celebrations took place in Warragamba Parish in 2001 in commemoration of the forming of the Parish in 1951. The second Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Kevin Manning DD, presided at the Mass with Fr Paul Marshall, our then Parish Priest, and Pastor Emeritus Fr John Evans at the church at Warragamba followed by a celebration of a meal with the Bishop, priests, Mayor of Wollondilly-Christine Towndrow and special guests. Frank McKay, one-time Mayor of Wollondilly Council, spoke on the occasion.
In July 2004, two parish houses were completed at Willowdene Avenue, Luddenham. One house was occupied by Sr Adele Cottrell-Dormer (Pastoral Associate) and the other by Fr Paul and Rev Vincent Savarimuthu. Fr Vincent Savarimuthu from Tamil Nadir, Southern India was appointed as Assistant Priest in June 2005.
A more detailed chronicle of the history of the parish can be read in the book published in November 2002 coinciding with the arrival of the church in Warragamba 50 years before. This publication, called The Journey, is available from the Parish Office at Luddenham for $15.
Our current Parish Priest, Rev Zvonimir Gavranovic, was appointed in 2007.
The Parish of St. Andrew’s Marayong came into existence on February 1st, 1961. It was separated from Blacktown Parish and was officially designated as the Parish of Doonside/Quakers Hill.
Fr. Kenneth Byrne was the first Parish Priest and served this Parish as Pastor until retiring in 1988. In January 1963, Doonside became a separate Parish as did Quakers Hill ten years later in January 1973.
Fr Ron McFarlane became the second Parish Priest of St Andrews Marayong in 1988 and continues to be part of this community. Over the years we have been fortunate to be able to have assistant priests, each of whom has contributed something significant to the parish by their presence and unique gifts. Having two priests in the parish as the numbers have grown has made it possible to expand the activities of the parish.
Of course, this would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of many people who are part of the community – their involvement has meant that the parish is able to provide so many opportunities to be supportive in the faith journey of this parish family.
Many of the parishioners have chosen to be actively involved in the various ministries of the parish. The involvement of the members of the community in the life of the parish is what makes our parish so special, for true parish life is about family and community. Much has been done to create a welcoming community and a place where people feel comfortable. The parish community has continually provided opportunities for faith education and formation.
The first Mass in the temporary Parish Church was on November 5th, 1961. The reconstructed Church had its first Mass on November 5th, 1977. Due to the population increase in the early 1990’s it was necessary to dramatically extend the church once again. In 1994 the present church was blessed and dedicated.
In recent years the former convent has been converted into meeting rooms. The parish offices constructed in 2001 have now been extended. A very large gathering area and an amenities block were recently completed. This has provided great opportunities for parishioners to gather with the expansion of our Hospitality and Youth & Young Adults Ministries.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to all those who have been involved since the beginning of this parish community and we look forward with confidence to the continued involvement of present and future parishioners.
On Friday 22 December 2017, Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, established the Parochial District of Marsden Park.
Located in the north-west of Sydney, St Luke’s was borne out of the need to accommodate one of the fastest growing areas of Australia.
Bishop Vincent appointed, as of the 1 January 2018, Reverend Mr Anthony ‘Tony’ Hoban as the Pastoral Director and Very Reverend Christopher de Souza VG EV PP as the Priest Supervisor of the Parochial District.
The organisation and pastoral leadership of the community has been undertaken by Deacon Tony Hoban, assisted by his wife Annette and a group of lay volunteers dedicated to the success of the community.
Bishop Vincent celebrated the inaugural Mass at St Luke’s College on Sunday 8 April at 10am. Mass continued each Sunday after that at 10am.
Deacon Tony and his wife Annette moved into the Marsden Park area in early January 2018 to build relationships and start the faith community.
Fr Chris de Souza said the Opening Mass of the school year at St Luke’s school.
St Luke’s Catholic Community is formally a parochial district in Canon Law but because the term is probably unfamiliar to most, the choice was made to name it a Catholic faith community.
The Merrylands Parish was formed in November 1946, having previously been a part of Holy Trinity Parish, Granville.
After discussion between Monsignor McGovern and pioneer parishioner Fred Tripp (who purchased the first block of land), the parish was named in honour of St Margaret Mary.
The foundation Parish priest was Rev Lou Tosi, who built up the parish and school building which was also used as a church.
In February 1965, the parish received a ‘grand gift from Erin Isle in Father Kerrick’, who extended the school and built the church. Rev Bray succeeded him in February 1979, building the school administration block, the hall and five extra classrooms.
The parish has had many conscientious assistant priests who have moved onto other parishes and activities.
The primary school was originally staffed by the Sisters of St Joseph, then by the Marist Sisters.
The parochial district of Mount Druitt was established on 1 June 1965, having been cut off from St Mary’s Parish.
Rev Patrick Archbold was its first Parish Priest, living for some time in an A-frame house which he built near the Sacred Heart Church on Ropes Creek Road, where Mass was celebrated.
In 1966 plans were made for a parish centre comprising a kindergarten and hall/church to be built. They were blessed and opened in April 1968.
In January 1966, the Schoenstatt Sisters took up residence in the parish, and Schoenstatt Rev Carl Boes began work in 1967.
In 1970 Fr Archbold reported that the Catholic population of Mt Druitt had risen in three years from 1,825 to 6,000, from 554 families to 1,320. There were two priests (himself and Rev Boes) two churches (Holy Family and Sacred Heart) with six Sunday Masses between them, three Schoenstatt sisters, 17 catechists; 30 altar servers, five St Vincent de Paul men and 46 families involved in Schoenstatt groups. In those three years, there had been 42 marriages, 378 baptisms, and 127 confirmations. There were around 2,000 Catholic children in six state primary schools and one high school.
he preschool kindergarten existed from the beginning. Rev Archbold noted: “An idea has been proposed that we need a welfare centre involving SVdeP, Catholic Welfare Office, Sisters’ work and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.”
On 8 February 1976, Therry House, the Education Centre and the Day Care Centre were blessed and opened. The parish of South Mount Druitt was also cut off. Rev Archbold died on 5 August 1977 and Rev Bede Heather became Parish Priest. When he became Bishop in 1979, Rev Peter Phipps took over. He was succeeded in 1980 by Rev Paul Hanna.
In 2004 Rev Peter Confeggi was appointed as Parish Priest. In 1993 there are about 24,000 Catholics in the parish. There were once again two priests and two churches (Holy Family and the Ardlbold Centre at Willmot) and a Nass each Sunday at Bidwill Uniting Church. Sisters of the Brigidine, Ursuline, Mercy and Good Shepherd congregations and the Christian Brothers were engaged in community work of various kinds in the parish area. There were 19 catechists, teaching in 11 state primary schools. There were also 66 members of the St Vincent de Paul Society visiting houses in the area, and the Society was also conducting the shop at Emerton and the Margaret Druitt Day Care Centre for more than 70 two-to-five year olds and the Caroline Chisholm Centre. Since that time, teams of parishioners now do the work of preparing families for Sacraments of Baptisms, Holy Communion and Confirmation.
Marriage preparation is as yet handled by the priests. A small group has developed special skills for assisting people through the difficult times surrounding funerals. There are also many people exercising ministries in the church community as Readers, Acolytes and Special Ministers of the Eucharist, as well as hospital visitors, musicians, choir, the RCIA team, altar society and cleaners.
A number of people continue involvement in the Schoenstatt movement that has had such a long connection with the parish. The perceived need in 1970 for a welfare centre has certainly grown over the years. There are now many groups and activities in the parish at the service of the whole community.
In 1992, the family Holiday Program took more than 4,600 people away on 104 low-cost holiday outings. Alcoholics Anonymous meets twice weekly and Gamblers Anonymous (GA) once a week in the new meeting room. GA also has an office on site. The Food Market operates three times a week, serving more than 1,000 families with low cost groceries. There is a second-hand clothing store run by volunteers, and groups for pottery, craft and folk art.
Holy Family also serves a real community need by supervising local people fulfilling Community Service and Weekend Detention Orders as alternatives to fines and prison sentences. This account brushes lightly over many of these activities and cannot mention all that is done in particular communities within the parish, notable the Samoan, Tonga and Aboriginal communities.
Sacred Heart Parish was established in November 1976.
The parish is the part of Mt Druitt, known as Old Mount Druitt, joined with the new area of Minchinbury. The first Parish Priest was Rev Timothy Crowley.
Parishioners now number more than 8,000. The ethnic diversity within the parish brings together Catholics from Asia, Africa, South America, Europe and the Middle East, and is united in their common bond of faith. Also, there is a devotional expression of faith represented by those attending Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament during a Vigil after evening Mass on first Fridays, and by those spontaneously reciting the Rosary after Mass each day.
In 1983, the parish school was established and a new hall opened in 1988. The parish school has 400 boys and girls from kindergarten to Year 6 and the three state primary schools within the parish have around 492 pupils.
The parish is particularly proud of the voluntary efforts of so many parishioners to support the many parish activities in the religious, social and construction areas.
In 1967 a retired couple, Ted and Peg Barrett, wrote to Cardinal Gilroy requesting that a new parish be formed in the growing area of North Rocks. Their wishes became a reality on 3 February 1970, with the appointment of Fr Eric Burton as Parish Priest.
The new parish was made up almost entirely of young couples and growing families. They were concerned with providing a Catholic education for their children in the context of a Catholic community. An ex-convent from Nymagee had been re-erected on land purchased by Sydney Archdiocese. This cottage became a chapel, office, a meeting place and a presbytery.
On Sundays, the folks gathered for Mass at North Rocks Community Centre for more than four years, during which the first church (now the parish hall) and the infant’s school were built. The original land proved unsuitable and was sold to enable the present land to be purchased.
As in any parish the passing years saw the erection of various buildings. The more important events were those that happened to people and we saw the building of the ‘church’ in the people sense.
Apart from the day-to-day liturgy of the Eucharist and sacramental life, the years saw the development of numerous ministries. The first ongoing lay ministry was that of the catechists in the state schools.
Establishment of the parish school under the direction of the Holy Faith Sisters and with the enthusiastic support of the parents and teachers was a major step.
St Monica’s has a distinguished history. It all began with Monsignor Rigney, the fifth Parish Priest of St Patrick’s, Parramatta, when he was looking to build another church in the area. Just two miles north of Parramatta was a public house variously known as the Green Gate, The Rising Sun and finally Waitematta House.
The Monsignor bought it for 300 pounds and it became the first presbytery, school and teacher’s residence of the future St Monica’s Parish. The foundation stone of St Monica’s Church was laid on Sunday 24 July 1888 after the 11am Mass, which was celebrated in a tent on the site of the proposed edifice. The building of the church was completed in 1889 and it stood there for 71 years.
St Monica’s was made into an independent parish in 1894 with Rev James Joseph Maloney as its first pastor. The present church was built in 1960 on the site of the Ancient Inn which had been pulled down.
St Monica’s School was established in 1892 by the Sisters of Mercy where they faithfully remained until the departure of Sr Marie Butcher at the end of 1999. Mrs Ann Marrins became the first lay principal in 2000. She is followed by Mr Michael Hopley in 2005. The capacious parish hall was built by voluntary labour in the early 50s in the time of the 10th pastor, Rev John Ferrari. Rev Roger Wynne, who followed him, built the present church and presbytery. Successive pastors were Rev Gerry Ryan CSsP, Rev Sean Lynskey CSsP and Rev Brian Rooney. Over the past half-century, new parish districts have been created and this has resulted in a smaller church and school population for the moment.
In November 2008 Fr Fernando Montano MG was installed as the new Parish Priest.
Since December 2006 a permanent Chinese Chaplain has been appointed to the diocese as a resident in St. Monica’s Presbytery. He also acts as assistant pastor to the parish. Mass for the Chinese continues to be celebrated every Sunday at 11.30am. The present appointee is from the community of Missioners of Guadalupe in Hong Kong, Fr. Fernando Montano MG.
In 1839, Rev John Brady arrived at Windsor. His parish included Penrith. Before either of the presbyteries were built in the grounds, the first Catholic priests that came to Penrith stayed with families in Cranebrook (usually the McCarthy’s), celebrated Mass in Penrith then returned to Windsor.
The first priest in Penrith was the Rev Charles Sumner. He came to Australia on The Oriental with Dr Polding’s party of clerics. Not yet ordained, he became the first priest ordained in Australia and in 1839 was appointed to Penrith. The foundation stone of the present presbytery was laid on Sunday 7 February 1932, replacing the original building which had been deemed ‘very old and has outlived its usefulness’.
Unfortunately, very little is known of this original building. The blessing of the foundation stone for the new presbytery was attended by the then Catholic Primate, Archbishop Kelly who returned for the opening on Sunday 27 November 1932.
On 12 December 1839, Dr Polding consecrated St John’s cemetery at Irishman’s Corner and laid the foundation stone of St Nicholas of Myra on land donated by John Tindale. The first services on the site were celebrated in a slab building in the 1840s. By 1850, a more substantial building had been erected, the church being consecrated by Bishop Polding during November of that year. Sometime after the appointment of Rev Barlow in 1891, the church was renovated and partially restored, including the removal of a coat of thick whitewash from the original stones forming the frontal altar.
This church was to serve the Catholic community in Penrith until the erection of the present building in the 1960s. Despite the need for a larger Catholic church in Penrith, many local residents were saddened by the demolition of the old church.
On 30 April 1967 the present church of St Nicholas of Myra was officially opened and blessed by Cardinal Gilroy. Designed by architect Brian Curtin, the contemporary design of the new church is a radical departure from traditional church architecture, offering increased capacity to accommodate Penrith’s growing population.
Over the years a number of priests and religious orders have contributed significantly to the development of the parish. First came the Benedictines, among them Rev Sumner. The Redemptorists and the Franciscans have also enriched the priestly ministry. The Sisters of St Joseph have taught the Penrith Catholic children for more than 100 years. The Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy have also been involved.
The Penrith area is blessed with many primary and secondary Catholic schools, servicing the St Nicholas Parish community including St Nicholas of Myra (Penrith), Mary Mackillop (South Penrith) St Dominic’s College (Penrith) Caroline Chisholm (Glenmore Park) McCarthy Catholic College (Emu Plains) and Xavier College (Cranebrook).
The Good Shepherd Parish was established in 1970 and the Good Shepherd Primary School nine years later.
Today, parishioners number more than 12,000. Bishop Bede Heather blessed a new church in 1988. In 1991, the St Francis Primary School was established followed by Clare High in 1994.
Three primary schools provide Catholic education to more than 2,100 students. Another feature of the parish is the dedicated group of catechists who each week go to five local primary state schools and one high school to spread the Good News to some 1,200 Catholic students.
The parish is particularly proud of the close unity of the 49 nationalities in the parish, who help and support each other for the good of the parish and its communities.
There are three religious orders of nuns in the parish: Ursulines, Marist Missionary Sisters and Franciscan Immaculatine Sisters.
Each Sunday Mass is said in Vietnamese to cater for the needs of this community. The Maltese celebrate the feast of St Nicholas on the first Sunday of December. The Filipino people celebrate the feast of Santo Nino on the third Sunday of January and the feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel on the third Sunday of July.
Parishioner Gary Payne detailed the varied and interesting history of this parish in his ‘History of Quakers Hill-Schofields Parish 1919-1993’.
The first recorded mention of Quakers Hill was in June 1789 when Captain Watkin Tench stood on ‘The Quakers Hill’ and ‘from there has a clear view of Prospect Hill’. It was from the parish of Blacktown-Prospect that the Parish Priest, Rev John Moriarty, came at the request of Catholic families to celebrate the first Mass in June 1919 at a home in 16 Ramona Street. A parishioner, Thelma Harbrow, remembers Fr Moriarty often walked from Blacktown to Quakers Hill.
In 1919, a significant event took place when Catholic families held a meeting to discuss the needs of the group. Known as the ‘Meeting on the Log’, a photograph of these pioneers sitting on a log on a block of land bordered by Montrose, Highfield and Pentland Streets where the first church was built, has pride of place in the new church on Barnier Drive.
In 1972, Archbishop James Freeman separated Schofields from Riverstone Parish and linked it with Quakers Hill. On 1 January 1973, Rev Bert Callose became its first Parish Priest. A priority was the renovation of the 1922 building which had served as the church for the growing population.
In 1987, Sr Edith Angel, a Parramatta Sister of Mercy, was appointed as Pastoral Associate. Later, Deacon Robert Carroll and Rev John Smith from England joined the parish team.
In February 1994, Rev Callose retired and his place was taken by Rev George O’Mara who had assumed the task of involvement with and commitment to, the building of a much needed presbytery, the completion of stage three of the parish school, the construction of the new Catholic high school, Terra Sancta College in Hambledon Road, and the commencement of a second Catholic primary school to be opened in 1997.
Sr Edith Angel RSM, retired in the early 1990s. Rev Walter Fogarty arrived as a deacon and was later ordained to the priesthood, remaining in Mary Immaculate parish until the end of 2002. Rev Ian McGinnity became Parish Priest in April 2001. Sr Helen Law RSM, was appointed Pastoral Associate in February 2003.
Deacon Robert Carroll returned to the parish in April 2004. During 2004, there were a number of ‘new’ parish Adult Education programs initiated and a Youth Team set up. St Joseph’s Church Schofields was upgraded and renovated during 2004. The Parish Team, together with a number of parishioners, spent some time discerning needs for the next ten years.
In August 2005, the Melkite Community of St Mary’s moved their worshipping to St Joseph’s Church, Schofields. In January 2006, Sr Helen Law departed the parish. Fr Joseph Thomas joined the parish as Assistant Priest in February. In April, Mr Jim Eves was appointed as part-time Pastoral Associate. Deacon Robert Carroll retired from active ministry at the end of November. During the latter part of 2006, renovations of the parish office took place as well as the addition of an all-weather shade cloth in the church forecourt.
In August 2007, Fr Joseph Thomas celebrated his silver jubilee of his ordination and Fr Ian McGinnity renewed his role for another six years. One month later Mary Immaculate Parish was blessed with the arrival of another priest Rev Mathew Antony, a La Salette Missionary. The good fortune of three priests in the parish was short-lived as Fr Joe was asked to become the administrator of another parish in Harris Park.
In 2008, Mary Immaculate Parish joined in the celebrations of World Youth Day and the arrival of his holiness Pope Benedict XVI in July. Mary Immaculate was chosen to attend a reception at Government House for the Pope. This was a special occasion shared by the school’s principal, two teachers and our Pastoral Associate Jim Eves, as well as the students. 2008 also marked the Silver Jubilee of Fr Ian’s ordination to the Ministerial Priesthood. Mass was celebrated with his fellow Jubilarian priests, family, friends, and parishioners of Mary Immaculate and former parishes of Fr Ian. Celebrations continued after the Mass with a lovely meal shared by all. 17 August was a memorable day for both Fr Ian and Mary Immaculate Parish.
The parish continues to grow and endeavours to meet the needs of an expanding multi-cultural community.
The parish of Richmond is the largest geographical parish in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, forming boundaries with Lithgow and Singleton. There are three Mass centres within the parish: St Monica’s Richmond, St Gregory’s Kurrajong and St John of God Chapel North Richmond.
In January 1859, Archbishop Polding laid the foundation stone for St Monica’s Church, Richmond and Rev Therry opened and blessed the church on 4 May 1859. Additions were made in 1897 and 1954.
A new church was built in Richmond in 1982. The church was used as a school for many years until the convent was built in 1878 by the Good Samaritan Sisters, who remained in the parish until 1943, when the Poor Clare Sisters took charge of the school until 1973.
Highlights of the parish are its people, some with the traditions of being families now into their seventh and eighth generation of being part of the fabric that moulded the district. Cardinal Clancy is still referred to fondly as Father Ted, having celebrated his first Mass here. Also Monsignor John Walsh is parish family. One hundred and fifty years ago the people kept the faith travelling by horse and sulky when possible to go to Mass. Today parishioners travel at least an hour from the outskirts of the parish.
On 11 December 2004 there was a celebration for the centenary of the ‘new’ church of St Gregory in Kurrajong. The Mass was presided by Bishop Kevin Manning and concelebrated by Cardinal Clancy, priests from the surrounding area and those priests who had previously worked in the parish. The original St Gregory’s had been built in 1840. On 24 November 2007, there was a Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Bishop Manning in commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the new church of St Monica in Richmond. In May 2009, the parish celebrated its 150th Anniversary.
Riverstone Parish is a veritable rural pocket in the metropolis of Sydney. Its extensive area covers Riverstone, part of Schofields and the smaller outlying villages of Marsden Park, Vineyard, Maraylya, Nelson and Box Hill.
This cluster of settlements, surrounded by open fields and bush, is a distinct geographic entity with a distinctive character. The character of the district is shaped by a highly productive community, with its vegetable farms, stock runs and a large factory area. The farming community is strongly represented in the church through its Maltese and Italian members. The long-established migrant families join many other families whose roots in the area go back to the 1800s. Some boast ancestors who settled in the area in 1792.
The first church – of weatherboard and corrugated iron – was opened in 1882, and served from Windsor. The present church, of brick construction and slate roof, replaced the old in 1904.
Riverstone became a separate parish in 1951. The successive Parish Priests were Rev Thomas Keogh (1951), Rev Joseph Croal (1961), Rev Brendan Shiel (1970), Rev Robert Anderson (1981), Rev Eugene Stockton (1990) and Rev Arthur Cook (1997).
Rev Keogh’s founding decade was a period of building. He had to lodge where he could until the presbytery was opened in 1953. The school opened in 1950 in the church and a converted shelter shed, now the parish hall, until the James Mason Memorial School was built in 1954. A secondary school was added in 1958. Other school construction continued until 1978.
In June 2001, a new library was completed to cater for expected school growth. Under the Catholic Education Office’s direction and with Federal Government Funding, a new Community Hall was added to the school complex in 2009-10. The Poor Clares conducted the parish school until 1979, at first travelling from Richmond until their convent was opened in 1957. The other religious house in the parish is Tyburn Priory.
The parish church celebrated its centenary in 2004. At that time a history of the parish was produced.
The history of the Church in Rooty Hill goes back to the early 1900s when first mention is made of Mass being said. From 1905, Mass was celebrated monthly on a Sunday in Goulters Hall.
Church assistance for Rooty Hill was not to come from the east but the west. The Sisters of St Joseph opened a convent at Penrith in 1880 and also at South Creek, now St Mary’s in 1880. The turn of the last century saw big developments for Rooty Hill and its Catholic community. In 1907, Bishop Michael Kelly opened the first Catholic school at Rooty Hill in a four-roomed cottage in Adelaide Street. School began on 14 January, with the Sisters of St Joseph coming from Penrith.
In 1915, Bishop Kelly laid the foundation stone of the first church at Rooty Hill. With the growth in population following post-war immigration, St Mary’s was cut off Penrith and became a separate parish in 1946. In 1956, Rooty Hill, Horsley Park and Kemp’s Creek were separated from St Mary’s and became a separate parish with Rev John Morreau as the first Parish Priest of St Aidan’s. On 14 September 1959, Bishop Freeman opened a new convent and presbytery. School enrolments continued to grow and by 1960, additional rooms were necessary.
In all parts of Sydney, post war migration brought many people to the Rooty Hill area, especially the Polish. A regular Polish Mass was started at Rooty Hill and is still said. The Hungarian people established a home for the aged.
St Agnes High School was opened in 1962 in the old cottage and the present main building was opened in 1965. The school became co-educational in 1979. A further new wing was opened in later years. Rev Morreau died suddenly on 17 February 1980. His Requiem Mass in the Chapel of Our Lady of Consolation Home, celebrated by Bishop Bede Heather and more than 100 concelebrants, was one of the biggest funerals for a priest ever conducted in Sydney.
Our Lady of the Angels, Rouse Hill, is the newest parish in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta and probably in Australia.
For several years, there had been talk of the establishment of a new parish, with the development goal of a church and school community. Land had been purchased and ideas had been floated. In May 2007, Bishop Manning wished to see the project move ahead and so appointed Rev Warren Edwards, giving him the task of starting a worshipping community in this new growth area, and establishing the new parish of Rouse Hill.
It is a wonderful challenge to form this new part of the Body of Christ, as it is not often we get the opportunity to build up a community and church from scratch in a new suburb. We hope to form a vibrant, close knit worshipping community and build a church which is faithful to the tradition as well as being relevant to the present and future. It is also a great opportunity to build a parish and school together in a communion which is, social, spiritual and formative.
From the beginning there was an energetic and enthusiastic worshipping community who met for masses in St Gregory’s Armenian School Hall at Beaumont Hills. We started with one Mass on Sunday morning with about 150 people. This foundation group developed a parish formation council and moved things along quickly. We chose a name based on its simple beauty and the Franciscan background of the parish – ‘Our Lady of the Angels’. Due to demand, the services expanded to three Masses each Sunday while still at the school hall. A need for a place of our own drove us to build a temporary church on the site of our future development.
In February 2009, this church and carpark were completed and worship has commenced in the new church. We now have three Masses every weekend with about 500 attendees, mostly young families typifying the demographic of the area. The great involvement of the parishioners in ministries and social events speaks well of a positive future for the fledgling parish.
The primary school will officially open on site in 2010 but has already commenced as a satellite kindergarten class at Our Lady of the Angels Primary School. The first principal, Eva La Rocca, has been appointed and given the task to build up this new school.
First evidence of Mass in this area was in 1855, in a converted barn near Ermington House, behind Ryde-Parramatta Golf Course. From 1857, Ryde Parish extended to the eastern part of what is now Rydalmere. Priests from Parramatta attended to the western end.
In 1849, Archbishop Polding purchased the Vineyard Estate on the Parramatta River and named it Subiaco, after the site near Rome where St Benedict retired to meditate. He established a Benedictine Convent and visiting priests often said Mass for the parishioners. Rydalmere Parish was severed from Ryde in 1876, although it was probably called Dundas at the time.
In 1886, Thomas O’Neill purchased and subdivided part of Vineyard Estate into 79 lots naming the area ‘Rydalmere’ and donating one block for a church. First mention of Rydalmere as a parish was when Cardinal Moran blessed the church-school on 18 September 1889. Rev Ed Kearney was pastor and was also responsible for the Hospital for the Insane. Records show that ‘in 1912, most Catholics in the parish were insane’ – 312 parishioners and 360 in the hospital.
In 1915, fire destroyed the church in mysterious circumstances. The historic house ‘Truganini’ in South Street was used for Mass and the school. Archbishop Kelly laid the foundation stone for the second church-school in 1916. The school closed in 1941, but after World War II came large scale housing developments in the area and the school reopened in 1949. More extensions were completed in December 1957 and April 1958. More school buildings were completed in 1976, coinciding with the departure of the Sisters of Mercy from the parish.
Rev Steve Ford died in 1981, after 32 years as Parish Priest. He was succeeded by Rev John McCaffery. With the changes to church liturgy following Vatican II and the need for extensive repairs to the existing church, the parish decided in 1988 to construct a modern building in Myrtle Street. It was dedicated by Bishop Bede Heather in August 1989.
1989 was also the centenary of the parish. Extensive refurbishment of the former church was then undertaken. Now known as our parish hall, it is used extensively by both the school and parish communities. Fr John McCaffery died on 17 July 2006. Fr John was Parish Priest for 22 years. The current Parish Priest is Fr Peter Lamont.
This is one of the newer parishes of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta, established by its first pastor, Rev Brian Rooney on 1 October 1981. Mass was celebrated for the first time in the new parish on 25 November 1981 in the auditorium of St Clair Primary School. Rev Rooney moved into a rented house around the same time and it was here that daily Mass became a reality.
The arrival of the Parramatta Sisters of Mercy was an important development. The following year saw three Sisters, Joan Keogh, Noni Ball and Patricia Bolster, appointed as pastoral sisters working full time. A parish centre was built in two stages, comprising the main church/ hall area. This was blessed and opened by Bishop Bede in November 1983. The second comprising the parish house, foyer, kiosk and pastoral centre was blessed and opened by the Archbishop of Sydney, Edward Clancy in June 1985. Two kindergarten classes set the new school in motion at the beginning of 1985.
The rapid growth of the area has necessitated almost yearly expansion of classrooms. A regional secondary school was opened in 1988 on the 100 acre diocesan site on the southern end of the parish at Kemps Creek. Sr Patricia Tully rsm was the first Principal of Emmaus Catholic College.
Emmaus College has a student population of more than 1,200 students. Trinity Catholic Primary School, Kemps Creek opened in 1993 as the second Catholic Primary School in Holy Spirit Parish. Emmaus Catholic College and Emmaus Retirement Village, share the site with Trinity.
In January 1995, the Augustinian Fathers assumed pastoral care of the parish. Some months later they moved into a residence purchased by the diocese, some 10 minutes walk from the Parish Centre.
The area has a population of 28,403 people, with approximately 11,794 Catholics. It is very much a multi-cultural society with Filipino, Maltese, Anglo-Indians and Sri Lankans, heavily scattered among Anglo-Saxons and many other nationalities.
St Clair Parish celebrated its 30th Anniversary on 29 October 2011.
Our Lady of the Rosary Parish was formally established in December 1946. It includes the suburbs of Claremont Meadows, Colyton, Oxley Park, St Mary’s and Werrington.
The Catholic church in St Mary’s was always known as ‘St Mary’s Catholic Church – St Mary’s Western Line’. In 1948, Rev Kerr (Parish Priest at the time), was asked by the Cardinal to give the church a name. Fr Kerr named the church ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’.
The Salesians of Don Bosco are now responsible for the pastoral care of the parish. They began their work in St Mary’s on the feast of St John Bosco on 31 January 1998.
On Christmas Day in 1951 and 1952, Rev Massey celebrated Mass in the memorial hall, Seven Hills.
By June 1953, numbers had increased to such an extent that he was obliged to establish a regular Mass Centre. Rev Law was appointed Priest-in-Charge, Blacktown following Rev Massey’s death in 1957. To cope with the development of Seven Hills and Lalor Park, he formed a Seven Hills Parish Committee, which welcomed Rev Bill O’Connor on 12 February 1959. The previous day had been the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the name bestowed on the new parish.
1960 was a memorable year for the parish. In February the first building, a church-school, St Bernadette’s at Lalor Park was opened, a presbytery was purchased at 10 Federal Road, Seven Hills and in December, Rev Murphy was appointed Assistant Priest.
In February 1961, after only two years, Seven Hills parish was split in two. A new presbytery was purchased in September 1964, to replace the temporary house in Federal Road. In 1977, Fr Bill introduced the Ministry of Acolyte to the parish and had the glass and timber walls of the church replaced by brick walls in the early 1980s. In 1991, a much needed parish centre was provided by converting the house at 4 Olive Street into offices and meeting rooms. Rev Michael O’Callaghan was administrator until Rev Edward Sequeira became the second Parish Priest in June 1991. Rev John Boyle became third parish priest in 2000, followed by the fourth and present Parish Priest, Rev Henry Huu Duc Tran, who was appointed in October 2006. August 1961 saw the start of the first part of Our Lady of Lourdes School. They were completed and opened in February 1962. More classrooms and an amenities block were added in 1978.
In October 1986, the library and adjoining six classrooms were destroyed by fire, but rebuilt for the second term of the following year. The Sisters of St Joseph departed in January 1995. They had lived and worked among the people of Seven Hills for more than 30 years. 19 April 1996 saw the completion of a new Parish Hall, eight new classrooms and a school administration wing.
From 14 January 2009, the restoration of the church roof was carried out and completed by the end of the same month to give parishioners a more comfortable place to pray and worship.
The history of the Church at Springwood dates back to 1839 when it was part of Penrith Parish under Rev Charles Sumner. Mass was celebrated at Thomas Boland’s Springwood Inn and later at their home. The Bolands were at one time the only Catholic family in the area.
In 1907, the resident priest in Springwood, Rev James Sheridan, arranged a boarding school under the control of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The parish was first entrusted to Rev PC Cregan, who had been sent by Cardinal Moran to build St Columba’s Seminary. In 1920, St Thomas primary school opened in the old church, which had been moved to Hawkesbury Road. It had 24 pupils; it now has 560.
A new era began in 1935 with the arrival of resident parish priests, assisted by seminary staff. Rev Daniel Galvin built a presbytery and new school between 1935 and 1946; Rev Thomas Leen erected a retaining wall and Rev Canavan built another school.
Between 1969 and 1977, Rev Leslie Bagot added a second storey to the original school. Rev James O’Meara saw the old seminary become a co-ed Catholic high school in 1979 and in 1981, 1983, 1985 and 2001, four stages of a new primary school were built on parish property.
In 1986, Rev Michael McGloin moved the old parish to the St Columba’s site and a retirement community, Aquinas Court, opened on the old site. It was subsequently transferred to Catholic Healthcare in April 2006.
Pastor Emeritus Fr Peter Connelly died on 3 September 2013.
The Catholic parish of St Anthony’s Toongabbie began with the appointment of the first Parish Priest, Rev William Canavan, by the then Archbishop of Sydney N T Cardinal Gilroy and the celebration of Mass in St Enda’s Hall, 4 February 1951.
However, Catholics had lived in the area since 1791, when Governor Phillip established Toongabbie as the Third Settlement. Recognition of Aboriginal ownership of the land at the time has to be acknowledged today and a debt of gratitude has to be expressed to the Dharug people who were the original occupants.
Perhaps the most significant development towards a recognition of a Catholic presence in the area was the building of St Enda’s Hall in 1929. This hall is still used by the parish and stands beside the church, which was opened 3 February 1963.
Catholic education began in the area in 1950, when the Sisters of Mercy travelled from Parramatta each day to teach in St Enda’s Hall. In 1957, the school was relocated at Girraween, a kilometre from the church. St Anthony’s was one of the first parishes in the diocese to install Acolytes and to initiate The Blessed Sacramental Program.
Upper Blue Mountains – St Mary of the Cross Mackillop Parish (Est 1992 [amalgamation of the parishes of Katoomba – 1890 – and Leura – 1948])
St Canice’s Katoomba, St Bonaventure’s Leura and St Francis Xavier’s Wentworth Falls make up the parish of the Upper Blue Mountains.
St Canice’s Church forms part of the rich history of the Blue Mountains going back as far as the 1800s, when pioneering priests discovered that escaped convicts from Emu Plains had settled among the Aboriginal communities in the Megalong Valley.
The first Mountains’ parish was established in 1841 as the Bathurst Mission, served from Hartley.
St Canice’s was preceded by a small weatherboard church, which was begun in 1887. The tiny church (14 metres x 7 metres) cost £160 ($320).
In 1890, Rev James McGough, an Irish priest in his early 40s, who had been ordained at All Hallows, departed for the “foreign mission” of Australia.
He spent two years in Maitland, NSW, before going to Katoomba, where he became pastor of Katoomba, the centre of the Parish of the Blue Mountains.
He named his new church St Canice’s after a Gaelic saint born in County Derry about 516.
Fr McGough was faced with many challenges in the early months of his tenure at Katoomba, such as the indifference of local Catholics to going to church. Even when the bishop visited, Fr McGough could think of barely 10 parishioners who would want to attend Mass.
His parish was 30 miles (48km) from one end to the other, Penrith on one side of the Mountains and Lithgow on the other. His biggest obstacle was communication.
Fr McGough had to travel on horseback spending many days and nights in the saddle, in sometimes inhospitable weather on tracks that were often impossible to negotiate even on horseback, to alert his parishioners to the fact that his small weatherboard church was waiting and welcoming.
After 10 difficult years, Fr McGough resigned in October 1900 to be replaced by a larger-than-life character, Rev St Clair Joseph Bridge, a 40-something priest who took the parish by the scruff of the neck and reputedly “pulled it alongside the hooves of his thundering horse”.
Fr Bridge, the son of a wealthy wool merchant, was described as “a bit unstable”, a “little odd” and “eccentric on a large scale”.
He had been born in Dundee Scotland, and claimed kinship to Cardinal Moran.
The eccentricity of the new incumbent soon became evident. At services men sat on the left side of the church (with boys at the front) and women on the right (girls at the front).
The doors were locked when Mass commenced and were not re-opened until the Mass was over.
Fr Bridge was popular though, and generous; he always remembered the collectors and wardens every Christmas and was meticulous in giving his altar boys some pocket money every Saturday night.
During his tenure he oversaw a frenzy of building, culminating in the laying and blessing of the foundation stone of St Canice’s by Cardinal Moran in 1902.
The Blue Mountains Parish thrived in the early 1900s with churches in Mt Victoria, Springwood, Blackheath, Wentworth Falls and Megalong; there were ceremonies every week to do with new schools, churches or convents.The parish thrived because the mountains thrived.
St Bonaventure’s Church, Leura. Photo- Virginia Knight
Wentworthville in 1919 was a small hamlet of which little was known outside its immediate environs. It boasted a few small businesses and a railway station. It was then part of the parish of Parramatta. The late Monsignor Thomas O’Reilly was then Parish Priest, and he ministered to the spiritual needs of a vast area with the help of two assistant priests.
Numbers at Wentworthville were few, and of necessity Mass was infrequent and irregular. During this time, Mass was celebrated in the home of Mr and Mrs John Madden. Two Sisters of Mercy were driven from Parramatta each Sunday in an open sulky to attend the Mass at which the children sang, with violin accompaniment, no less! As time went on, the numbers though still small, increased and became too large for the private residence. Arrangements were made to hire the Wentworthville School of Arts for Mass every fortnight.
Gradually, this too failed to serve the purpose and eventually a committee was formed to explore the possibilities of purchasing a suitable site on which to erect a church-school. Land was procured and on 9 April 1922, the foundation was laid by the late Archbishop Michael Kelly, DD. From then on progress was marked and rapid.
In 1951, it was determined the original church was totally inadequate to cope with the congregations. The present church was opened in March 1955. In June 1956, the parish was placed in the care of the Carmelite Friars and became known as Our Lady of Mt Carmel.
In 1996, our previous Parish Priest, Rev Laurie Timms O Carm saw to the building of a parish centre, a wonderful multipurpose space attached to the church. It has proved to be a marvelous innovation, especially in April 2002 when we were honoured with a visit of the Relics of St Therese of Lisieux. The parish centre was a great asset during that particular time as we coped with the 33,000 visitors we welcomed during the 2.5 days St Therese was with us. The memory of this unique experience was something the parishioners of Wentworthville will long cherish.
In recent years the parish demographics have altered dramatically. The area has evolved from a predominantly blue collar neighbourhood to becoming an intermingling of peoples from many nations (82 at last count!). These changes are reflected in our parish community – we are blessed to have such a diverse mix of cultures which enrich all our lives.
The parish of Sacred Heart, Westmead came into being on 1 February 1951, when Rev James Collins was appointed Parish Priest.
From the outset, Mass was celebrated in Westmead Boys’ Home until a church was built and opened on 28 March 1954. The need for a parish was largely due to a large Housing Project which had begun immediately after World War II. The parish purchased a house adjacent in 1956. In 1975, the permanent school was built and opened with the help of a Government Grant. The basement of the church was also used for classrooms. Rev Leo Mahon followed Rev Collins in 1963 as the second Parish Priest.
In 1964, the plans for building regional secondary boys and girls’ schools in Westmead were commenced, as well as the building of a monastery for the Marist Brothers in 1966. The Mercy Nuns came from Parramatta each day to staff Catherine McAuley College. The Brothers conduct Marist High.
In 1999, the primary school was extended and improved by the Catholic Education Office, increasing the enrolment of the school to more than 200 students.
In recent years, a large part of parish pastoral work has been the care of patients in Westmead General and Westmead Children’s Hospitals. Also included is care of patients in Westmead Private Hospital, Cabrini Nursing Home, Mayflower Nursing Home and Westmead Rehabilitation Centre. In December 2002, the care of both the parish and the hospitals was transferred to the Camillians (Ministers of the Infirm).
In 1831, the first Parish Priest Rev CV Dowling was appointed and St Matthew’s Catholic Parish was established in 1832. Bishop John Bede Polding later described Windsor parish as “70 miles long and very wide”. He also said that of the 140-odd communicants, no more than six or eight had been to confession for many years.
Rev JV Corcoran was appointed Parish Priest in 1835, and it was recorded that because the road to Windsor was so bad, coach drivers refused to travel on it. This may have been the cause of the death of Rev Corcoran who in 1837, was killed driving his gig near the tollgate.
James Doyle, a parishioner, died in 1836 leaving 350 pounds ($700) which was used to build the new church. In 1837, deeds were issued for the church and a school on the corner of Tebbutt and Church Streets. The church and school (which is presently the Parish Hall) was built by 1840.
Catholic education began in Windsor in 1834 when James and Esther Cassidy opened the first school. By 1838 there were 104 scholars attending. The Good Samaritan Sisters arrived in 1875 and have continued to be a presence in the life of the parish. Throughout the years, the Catholic community has often been asked to support those adversely affected by natural disasters.
In 1867, the 12 members of the Eather family drowned in floodwaters and were buried from St Matthew’s Church. One of the longest serving parish priests, Rev Leo Murphy (1954-1976) has been credited with bringing about a greater understanding and respect between Catholics and other religious denominations in the Windsor area. He was elected president of the Bowling Club, located across the road from the presbytery and was greatly respected by its members.
Rev James Dooley followed him as Parish Priest from 1976-1993. During this time, Bede Polding College was opened at South Windsor. Also planning commenced for a new Catholic primary school at Bligh Park and for the refurbishment/rebuilding of St Matthew’s Church.
Rev Maurice McNamara arrived in 1993 and was present for the building of Chisholm Primary School and for the completion of the refurbishment of St Matthew’s historic church.
St Paul the Apostle Parish at Winston Hills was established on 3 February 1970. Previously a part of North Parramatta, due to the wise foresight of Rev Roger Wynne, land was obtained from the Good Shepherd Order and a beautiful property of five acres was set aside on a historic hill overlooking Toongabbie and across the Prospect Hill.
The first pastor, Rev David Scott, with the help of a very active parish committee and a growing community, established the first two buildings, a church and presbytery by September 1971. The first Foundations stone (for the church) was blessed by Pope Paul VI during his visit at the end of 1970. It was laid by Cardinal Gilroy on 7 March 1971 and a plaque inside the church commemorated its blessing and opening by the Archbishop, later Cardinal Freeman in September 1971.
Various stages of school buildings were opened and blessed by Bishop Edward Kelly, Bishop (later Cardinal Clancy and Bishop Bede Heather. The school has been faithfully staffed over the years under the leadership of the Sisters of the Holy Faith of Glasnevin, in Dublin. The first Parish Council was formed in March 1973 and the school has had a very active Parents and Friends Committee since the first stage of the school was opened in 1973.
The parish is privileged to have a very zealous St Vincent de Paul Society, Catechist Group and Liturgy Committee. As planned, a larger church was built with the help of parishioners in 1985, and the first church, with some additions assumed its place in the parish layout as a parish centre.
A final building concluded in 1995 and opened by Bishop Bede Heather in October of that year, was a large school library, administration block and staffroom. The opportunity to add a special meeting room to the Parish Centre was also taken at that time.