St Michael's, Established 1917
Parish History - St Michael's
The opening up of Castle Hill and Windsor districts necessitated laborious work; consequently, convict settlements along the routes grew up. To some the comforts of their faith were essential and soon a move was made to erect a Church.
Catholic settlers at Baulkham Hills, Irishtown (Kellyville) and Vinegar Hill (Rouse Hill) agreed to a central site. Mr. William Smith supplied the land (about 11/2 acres), Mr. Andrew McDougall the stone which was quarried by Mr. Hugh Molloy. The Stone Mason was John William Davis. The small Church was completed in 1848 and blessed by Archbishop John Bede Polding. The Church also served as a school with 25 pupils on the roll.
The Church was first administered by the Benedictines and came under the care of Parramatta and subsequently North Parramatta parish. Baulkham Hills became a parish in its own right in 1917, Rev E. McNamara being its first Parish Priest.
The Original Church of St. Michael’s was enlarged in 1925, with stone, which once formed part of the old St. Mary’s Cathedral, being donated by Archbishop Kelly.
In 1902 St. Michael’s convent was founded by the Sisters of Mercy. They established a home for orphan boys in a cottage opposite the church. A new convent was built in 1932. They taught at St. Michael’s School when it opened in 1971 until 1990. Their work in the parish is still being appreciated with the presence of a Family and Crisis Centre and a Sister of Mercy as Pastoral Associate working in the Parish.
Fr. G. Parker succeeded Fr. McNamara in 1936, Fr. John Deely followed until 1956 when Fr. Joe Walsh was appointed. On May 24th 1970, the old St. Michael’s parish was divided, because of the population expansion and Castle Hill and Kellyville were parishes established.
Fr. P.J. Byrne was appointed the new parish priest. He had the demanding task of providing new parish facilities. Six acres was generously offered by the Sisters of Mercy. In October, 1971 a new school was blessed and opened. On July 27th 1980, the magnificent new Church was blessed and opened.
Over the years, with the transformation of the parish from a semi-rural to suburban housing area, the population of the parish has steadily increased. The primary school now caters for well over 800 pupils and the parish census estimates nearly 8,000 Catholic parishioners. There is still some development to take place in the Bella Vista region of the parish. Whilst there are a large number of young families in the parish, there is a significant elderly population.
This is only a sketch of some of the significant milestones in the history of St. Michael’s. Individual stories and events are too countless to be told in such a small space.
St. Michael’s looks forward to a bright future with a recognition of the achievements of its heritage.