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From Fern Hill to Dulwich Hill

Parish History

At the beginning of the new century (1900) families who were moving into the area known as Fern Hill attended Mass at Marrickville, Canterbury, Lewisham or Ashfield. In 1906 they petitioned Cardinal Moran, Archbishop of Sydney, to have their own church. The Cardinal approved and a local committee began seeking out an appropriate site for the church. A block of land on New Canterbury Road was obtained and in April 1907 Cardinal Moran laid the foundation stone for the church building.

The Passionist Fathers from Marrickville were asked to take charge and the first Mass was celebrated in August 1908. It was the Passionist Fathers who chose the patron saint of the new parish community - their own founder, St Paul of the Cross. The simple church building, now the parish hall, also served as a school during the week with Sisters of St Joseph from Campsie providing the teaching for an initial 80 Children.

In December 1908 Cardinal Moran appointed Fr William Hayden as Priest-in-Charge of the Parochial District of Fern Hill. In 1909 the property adjacent to the church was bought and in 1911 the presbytery (a one storey bungalow) was built on the corner with Myra Road.

Development of the school was an urgent matter and in the mid 1909 a property in May Street, across New Canterbury Road was purchased. By now there were 113 children attending the parish school. At the outbreak of the World War the number of children had risen 20 212 with 6 Sisters teaching. A convent for the nuns was built on the May Street site in 1915.

In 1918 Fr Hayden was made bishop of Broken Hill and a new parish priest appointed, Fr Hogan. The parish numbers were increasing greatly after the War and Fr Hogan commenced work on the building of a larger church. The foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Kelly in 1925, and the church was opened that year.

In October 1935 Fr Hogan died and Mgr Toumey was appointed parish priest. By this time the parish priest was assisted by two curates. The cottage presbytery was extended in 1937 with the addition of a second storey. Parish life continued to develop: the St Paul Tennis Club was founded in 1936; and the Holy Name Society in 1937. The school expanded extraordinarily providing education up to Intermediate Certificate and had 500 students in 1942.

Mgr Toumey died in 1955 and Mgr O'Donoghue was appointed parish priest. He would care for the parish well into his 90s and be for a time the oldest active priest in the Archdiocese of Sydney. In 1985 Fr Des O'Neill was appointed parish priest upon the death of Mgr O'Donoghue. He faced the challenge of a major rebuilding of the school property carried out in 1987.

The 1990s saw two new parish priests, Fr Bill Wright in 1996 and Fr Julian Porteous in 1999. Fr Porteous was appointed Rector of the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, Homebush in 2001 (and became an Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney in September 2003) and was succeeded as Parish Priest by Fr Jacek Cichy. Fr Cichy unfortunately had need to resign the parish due to health concerns at the end of 2003. Fr Don Richardson became Administrator of the parish on New Year’s Day, 2004.

See also: Parish Life & About our Church

 

© Catholic Parish of Dulwich Hill, 532 New Canterbury Road (PO Box 149) Dulwich Hill NSW 2203 Australia
Tel: +61 (02) 9558 3257 | Fax: (02) 9559 3752 | Email: church@dulwichhillparish.org.au | ABN: 83 263 390 312
A parish in the Archdiocese of Sydney

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