History of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish

Our Lady of Lourdes parish owes it’s beginnings to Fr. John Phelan of St Monica’s North Parramatta who acquired land in Oakland Ave in July 1949 and Windsor Rd. in October 1949.

 The first masses in Baulkham Hills South were held in the old School of Arts hall (now a park on the western side of Windsor Rd. opposite the school.) These masses were held by the then St. Monica’s parish priest Fr. John Ferrari and began in June 1951 with a 7.00am service each Sunday. Parishioners were required to set up an altar and arrange seats prior to mass. 

Fr. Roger Wynne arrived as the new pastor of St. Monica’s in March 1957 and saw a great need for a church & school at Baulkham Hills. In 1958 Fr. Wynne purchased a brick cottage (later used as the presbytery) surrounded by large grounds in Canyon Rd.

 On Sunday 5th January 1958 Archbishop James Carroll blessed the foundation stone of the first building for Baulkham Hills South and named it in honour of that Centenary year Our Lady of Lourdes Church/School.

 For eight months a great deal of activity took place as the construction of the Church/School continued, and on 21st September 1958 Cardinal Gilroy blessed and opened the first stage of the works.

The initial building consisted of five classrooms and a chapel, which was capable of seating 400 parishioners. The people of Our Lady of Lourdes were still part of St. Monica’s parish and only Mass was celebrated on Sundays, all baptisms, weddings and funerals were held at St. Monica’s.

 On the 29th January 1963 the school was finally opened under the care of Sisters of Mercy, Sr Mary Dunstan, Sr Rose Cassar and Sr Cecily Morgan. At the time the first classes were only Kindergarten to Year 3. The following year the upper level had to be used for additional classes.  

School Principal Sr. Irene making presentation to cricket team. circ. 1980

 Once the classrooms on the upper level were in use a ritual took place every week wherein the teachers and pupils would open the classrooms by folding back the dividing doors to allow Mass to be celebrated and then after Mass the doors would be closed by the parishioners to again form classrooms for the school. The ladies of the parish prepared the altar on Saturday afternoon  

Church/school with altar set up for Mass. circ.1978

 On the 1st of October 1969 a separate parish was formed with Father John Kelly as parish priest.  

   Fr Kelly 1983
Fr. Kelly & Bishop Clancy with the 1st. parish acolytes. Bernie Norris,David Bannerman, Steve, Barry McDonald, Kevin Noonan & Jack Mudie

Due to the growth of housing in the area the school was having trouble accommodating the children so an expansion programme was set in place by Fr. Kelly as well as purchasing a cottage fronting Windsor Rd. to be used as a kindgarten classroom. The south wing of the school was added. The builder Jim Vogt (a parishioner) and many volunteers from the parish carried out the work, which was opened on the 14th November 1971. This extension added 4 classrooms, a storeroom, principal’s office, library and toilets and allowed the upper level to be used solely as a church. This was short lived as the parish population increased and classes were again held in the chuch/school. Father Kelly then purchased another cottage fronting Windsor Rd. in 1973 again as a kindergarten classroom. In 1975 a north wing was added to the school, consisting of 5 classrooms, new office space, new staffroom, new toilets and a sports store.

 The cottage on the corner of Windsor Rd. and Canyon Rd. was purchased in 1979.

 Under Fr. Kelly’s watchful eye a church was commenced in mid 1978, again Jim Vogt and a band of parish volunteers worked tirelessly to construct the church. Eric Parkes collected convict hand made bricks for the Sanctuary wall from many old pioneer buildings in the area. The church and auditorium (later named the John Kelly Auditorium) were opened and dedicated by Cardinal James Freeman on 3rd August 1980.  

Sanctuary wall constructed from convict bricks.                                                                OLOL church 

 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. From July 1985 to October 1985 the parish was administered by Fr. Eugene Szondi.

 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 and Deacon Joseph Formosa took up their positions in 1998.

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 Counselors.

 The new team faced a major undertaking in replacing the Parish Office, which had previously been operating out of the old presbytery. The new Parish Centre was completed and operating by August 2001.  

Parish Centre 2007

 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 Father Paul Slyney was relocated to Springwood parish and Deacon Robertus Kim was relocated to St Patrick's Cathedral and in December 2011 Father Chris Dixon was appointed parish administrator and parish priest of Christ the King  - North Rocks.

A new parish administrator was appointed in December 2013 - Very Reverend Michael O'Callaghan - parish priest of Baulkham Hills

In a decree signed by the Bishop of Parramatta Anthony Fisher on the 5th March 2014 the Parish of Baulkham Hills South was broken up into the parishes of Baulkham Hills ,Winston Hills and North Parramatta and no longer exists bringing to an end it's 65 year history much to the disappointment of the parishioners who have invested thousands of hours and dollars in the construction and development of the parish. Despite this upheaval the community of Our Lady of Lourdes still continue to support and worship at our church.

Our Lady of Lourdes is part of the Baulkham Hills Parish with both St.Michaels church and Our Lady of Lourdes church under the parish priest Fr. Michael O'Callaghan.

In Feb 2015 Fr. Mick moved to St. Mary's parish and Fr. Wim Hoekstra assumed the role of parish priest for 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.

 

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