Canberra Central Parish, St Brigid & St Patrick Churches
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2 Bancroft Street, Dickson, ACT, 2602
Rev Fr Emil Milat
(02) 6248 5472
Mon - 9.30am to 12.30pm. Wed, Thurs – 9.00am to 1.00pm

History

Canberra Central Parish

The Canberra Central Parish was created in 1994 from an amalgamation of two former parishes St Patricks Braddon (1955) and St Brigid Dickson (1962). St Brigid’s is a well-established community orientated church, nestling in a tree lined suburban street setting. It was built and opened in 1978. St Patrick’s began its life as St Mary’s Church in Braddon and was opened in 1935. It is the only Catholic Church in Canberra’s city centre. It is ideally placed to meet the needs of tourists, city workers, university students and residents of the many down-town apartment dwellings.

St Patrick's, Braddon

 (What follows has been largely sourced from Elizabeth Baxter’s history “St PATRICK’S BRADDON 1935-2015 - a legacy for the future”)

 

St Patrick’s was developed as a church/school to address the educational and spiritual needs of the Catholic community of northern Canberra by Fr (later Monsignor) Patrick Haydon, the founding priest of the Parish of Canberra when it was separated from Queanbeyan.  It was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. John Barry Bishop of Goulburn on 27th October, 1935. 

It was the second Catholic school in Canberra and the first Catholic church in the northern suburbs of the city.

From the beginning, St Patrick’s has focussed on the spiritual, educational and community needs of newcomers to Canberra.  In the early days these were workers and administrators building the city; drafts of Public Servant relocated to the developing Capital; then came post war migrants from Europe and the UK  and now present day newcomers from Asia, the Americas and Africa and students from all over the world studying at our Universities and Colleges.

The development of St Patrick’s owes much to these peoples and to groups such as the Boniface Community which continue to contribute both spiritually and materially to the Church.

As a school

St Patrick’s was staffed by the Good Samaritan Sisters from 1935 to 1954.  The Sisters of Mercy took over in 1955 and the school continued to operate until 1973.

Over the years the school population increased peaking in the 1950s.  By 1955 overcrowding was an issue.  Other schools were established in the parish as were Catholic colleges catering to Canberra as whole. During the 1960s enrolments declined and in 1973 the school closed. From 1973 to 1982 the School Without Walls operated from the Donaldson Street site.

As a Church

Fr. Haydon was granted the lease of the present site in February, 1935. The building was designed and constructed to compliment the surrounding Braddon streetscape.  Until its completion Mass, when it could be arranged, was held at Acton and in the then Ainslie Public School.  From 1935 to 1954, St Patrick’s was the north side venue for baptisms, first communions, confirmations, marriages and funerals as well as weekday and Sunday Masses.  For Sunday Masses the concertina partitions, that during the week divided the building into classrooms, were pulled back and the whole church opened to accommodate worshippers.  In those days the altar was situated at the western (Cooyong Street) end of the building.  In addition, the Church catered to a range groups such as the Catholic Women’s League and the St. Vincent de Paul Society catering to the spiritual and welfare needs of the community.

1955 saw the creation of the northside parish of St Patrick’s and the opening of a new St Patrick’s church on Ipama Street, Braddon.  This “new” St Patrick’s was the principal Mass centre for the Parish until 2000.  Sunday Masses continued to be said at the old church/school

In 1959 the original St Patrick’s was renamed St Mary’s – Our Lady of Mercy School thus resolving the confusion of having two churches of the same name in the same parish while recognizing the work of the Mercy Sisters.

In 1983 the Parish Administrator, Fr. Brian Maher, foresaw the need for an inner-city church given the needs of migrant groups, the increasing population of the Civic area, University and moves to denser development of the area.  The Church was renovated and assumed its current configuration.  The newly renovated building was dedicated by Archbishop Francis Carrol on 16 March, 1983

In 1994 the Canberra Central Parish was created and in 2000 the “new” St Patrick’s was handed over to the Merici College.  In 2002 the Donaldson Street Church reverted to its original name – St Patrick’s - as had always been intended.

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