A Brief History
It all Began …
In 1941 Father Patrick John Collins was appointed as the third Parish Priest of Liverpool. On arrival he boldly embarked on a program of property acquisition that would allow the parish to meet future growth.
Father O’Rourke, a curate at All Saints Liverpool in 1943 – 44, usually said Mass at Cabramatta and alternately at Mt Pritchard and Hoxton Park at 10:00am every Sunday. At Mt Pritchard, Sunday Mass was celebrated in the old Mt Pritchard picture theatre and about 70 people would attend.
When the Sacred Heart School opened in Cabramatta, Margaret White would harness up the horse and gather as many children as she could and take them to Cabramatta to have a religious education.
As they only had Mass locally every fourth Sunday of the month, they had to go by horse to Liverpool Church every other Sunday. Margaret picked out a large block of land she thought would make a good spot for our church and school, it was the corner of Humphries and Cabramatta Roads.
The owners did not want to sell this land as it was a flourishing market garden. Mrs White actually planted medals in the trees, hoping that the Lord would grant her wish. Margaret started to walk around the property reciting novenas from St. Peter’s verses. This finally did the trick and the owners agreed to sell the corner block and the parish became known as St. Peters.
On the 23rd Jan 1945, Father Patrick John Collins (then the 3rd Parish Priest of Liverpool – All Saints), assisted by Margaret Mary O’Neil (White) wrote to Monsignor Richard Collender (then Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Sydney – Dec: 11th Jun 1958) asking for permission to purchase the land, 2 acres, on the corner of Humphries and Cabramatta Roads. The approximate cost of the land was 110 pounds. His request was approved on the 25th January 1946.
Approval was also given to negotiate to purchase a C.U.S.A. Hut (Catholic United Services Auxiliary or Association) to be erected on the site.
On the 27th Feb 1946, Father Collins’s tender for the purchase and removal of a C.U.S.A. hut from the Narellan Army Camp, including its furniture and fittings, for the sum of 400 pounds, was approved by the “Secretariate for Special Works of The Archdiocese of Sydney”. A letter of authority was included to advise the Camp Commandant at Narellan that Father Collins was now the new owner of the building and asking him to facilitate its removal.,
The C.U.S.A. hut was placed on this second site in 1947. The newly erected C.U.S.A. hut was now being used as a hall where regular dances were held. Funds were being raised to carry out building additions/renovations in order to make it suitable for use as a school and church. St Peters Hall as it became known had regular Saturday night dances.
At some time between 1946 and 1952 Masses began to be celebrated in the C.U.S.A. hut in lieu of the Mt Pritchard Theatre. The commencement date is unknown.
On the 1st Dec 1948, Father Patrick John Collins, wrote to the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Norman Thomas Gilroy and proposed that a separate parish of Cabramatta be formed with St Peters Mt Pritchard as an out-church or outstation.
On the 1st Feb 1949, Cabramatta was inaugurated as a new Parish in its own right with Mt Pritchard included in its boundaries. The Rev Michael Kiely became the inaugural Parish Priest of the Parochial District of Cabramatta.
In late January or early February of 1952 (1st term) the Mt Pritchard Catholic Primary School was opened in the C.U.S.A. hut, it would be known as St. Peters Primary School.
Each Friday afternoon a section of the school building was converted from school use to church use. Partitions were moved and seating was rearranged to allow for the Priest to celebrate Mass. As we were now part of the Cabramatta Parish and not Liverpool, our weekend mass was said by a priest from Cabramatta.
From 1949 up until November 1960, when Father Thomas Fennell arrived, Father Kiely who was the parish priest of Cabramatta from the 6th Feb 1949 to February 1959, or Father Darcy O’Keeffe who became the parish priest in March 1959, or one of the assistant priests would come out to say mass and perform Baptisms etc.
In March of 1960, Father Darcy O’Keeffe wrote to Bishop Carroll (Rip – Dec: 14th Jan 1995) asking for approval to spend up to 2,500 pounds to acquire the land and old cottage at 578 Cabramatta Road Mt Pritchard. This was to be used as a presbytery. Approval was granted on the 30th March 1960.
On the 22nd Oct 1960, the boundaries of Mt Pritchard parish were drawn.
On the 8th Nov 1960, Father Thomas Fennell (rip) came to Mt. Pritchard then known as St Peters. Initially, Father Fennell lived in the cottage at 578 Cabramatta Road until the current Church site was purchased.
The foundation stone for our first church, the “A” shaped building (now being used as our Parish Centre), was laid by Bishop Thomas Muldoon on the 3rd December 1961, with the official opening and naming of the church to “Our Lady of Mt Carmel Mt Pritchard” in 1962 by Bishop James Darcy Freeman.
In early 1986 a Church Building Committee was formed to look at the possibilities of building a new church. With the new church the original building could then be converted to a much needed parish hall. The support for a new church was such that construction began as soon as possible.
In 1990 the old “A” frame “Our Lady of Mt Carmel” church was decommissioned and replaced with the larger brick building now standing on the corner of Humphries and Cabramatta Rd’s.
It was on a cold winter’s day at 7:30pm on 31 May 1991, that more than three thousand people flocked to the opening of our new Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.
The opening was officiated by the then Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Edward Clancy. More than 5 years had elapsed since the massive work of building this $1.8 million church began. It was a new chapter for this multicultural parish, which draws its flock from around 65 nationalities.
In 2012 the parish hall (old “A” frame church) was extensively refurbished and officialy reopened as the OLMC Parish Centre, by Father Anthony Fregolent on the 14th July. The Parish Centre was blessed by Bishop Terry Brady the following day as part of the Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel celebrations.
For a full history of our parish, see the book to commemorate our 50th Anniversary, titled “The Old & The New – A History of the Parish of Our Lady of Mt Carmel Mt Pritchard” printed in 2011.