Grenfell Parish
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Fr Tom Thornton
(02) 6343 1514 during school hours.

History

The Early Days of Grenfell

As early as 1838 when Yass was established as the first Ecclesiastical district in the interior of Australia, the whole area from Yass to Melbourne was served by a solitary dedicated priest.  The first of these was Fr Brennan followed in 1839 by Fr Lovatt and in 1847 by Fr Magennis. To lessen distance travelled the parish of Albury was established in 1854.  In 1857 two priests came to Yass, Fr McAlroy as PP and Dr Bermingham as his assistant. Over the years priests from Yass travelled from Station to Station, administering to the spiritual needs of places visited.  In their Baptismal registers, among the names of places visited, “Weddin Mountains” is frequently listed with “Currawong” . “Calabash”, ”Stoney Creek”, “Cudgil”, “Wollenbeen” and “Coolagong”.   John Nowlan, born in Ireland in 1806 came to Australia and went on the land in the 1830’s.  He came to the “Weddin Mountains” and in 1843 purchased the property “Wentworth” from Mrs Hanrahan.  He and his family must surely have been the first Catholics in this area ministered to by the pioneer priests from Yass.  The first John Nowlan died at “Wentworth” on 15th December 1889 aged 83years.  His son John had taken over “Wentworth” in 1860.    (1)

In July 1884 Grenfell and Gooloogong were cut off from Young and formed into a separate parish.  The new Grenfell Parish adjoined Young and stretched almost to lake Cargelligo in the west and to the Lachlan River in the north, covering well over 1000 square miles of sparsely inhabited country and the priest made his rounds on horseback in all sorts of weather.

Grenfell record – July 19th 1884:  Catholic – The rev Father O’Connell left Young on Monday last for Albury, having been appointed to that district.  The Rev gentleman during his connection with Grenfell made a host of friends, not only among his own, but every other denomination, and much regret is expressed at his departure.  Fr Quirke, of Albury, succeeds Fr O’Connell and will take up his residence in Grenfell.   (1)

Prior to the establishment of the new parish – notice in Grenfell Record March 1884  and May 10 1884:

His Lordship, the right Rev Dr Lanigan, Bishop of Goulburn, will administer the sacrament of Confirmation at Grenfell on

Sunday 11th May.  (1)

 

For more details download the complete article from the Parish News section on the Home Page.

St Joseph's Parish School

Approximately 1885  A convent was built about the site of the present School Library building and Sisters of Mercy arrived to teach the 140 children enrolled.

 

Sister Mary Evangelist came to the Convent of Mercy Grenfell in 1894 and remained for sixteen years

Details of her farewell can be found in the December 21st 1910 issue of Grenfell Record.

 

Prior to the coming of the Sisters of Mercy in 1887, lay teachers taught in the Church School.

Patrick Glackson, T Sheehan, Jeremiah O’Ryan, Joseph Ryan, Gregory Myers (the famous cricketer). Mrs McCarthy was followed by Miss Beck.  As early as 1882 there is the evidence that Miss M’Caig had charge of St Joseph’s Catholic School from that date until 1884.

 

Marcia Madden (born “Summer House” Piney Range in 1888) entered the Convent of Mercy Order in 1907.

She was professed in 1909 – the first nun professed at St Joseph’s Mount Novitate Bathurst.  She died at St Catherine’s Convent Bathurst in 1971.  

 

The foundation stone of the new parochial School was laid on March 25th 1917 by Rev. Dr Gallagher, Bishop of Goulburn.  Dr Gallagher had been present at the opening of the original iron “church school” opened by Dr Lanigan in 1867.  The new school was completed in 1918 and officially opened and blessed on Sunday 21st by Dr Gallagher.  Assisting the Bishop was Fr Slattery (Inspector of Schools) and Grenfell priests Frs. McAlroy, Fleming and Carson.

 

Peace Medals were distributed to commemorate the end of the war and in July 1919 200 children assembled at the school to receive these medals from the Mayor.

 

This year also brought credit and honour to the Sisters of Mercy when one of their music pupils, Miss Evelyn Maguire, was awarded the special prize offered by the Sydney College of Music.

 

In April 1938 Kathleen Smith entered the Novitate at Goulburn and on being professed took the name of Sr. M. Dolores.

 

In 1951 Jenny Rolls entered the Novitate of the Sisters of Mercy, St Joseph’s Mount, Bathurst.

 

1950 the residence on corner of Young and Weddin Sts was purchased for conversion to a convent.  The work was completed in 1952.  Most Rev GC Young DD Aux Bishop blessed and opened the convent.

Sr M Ignatius was the Mother Superior.  Also here at that time were Sr M Felician, Sr M Magdalen, Sr M Helen and Sr M Cleary (then Sr M Amideus).  Sr M Celine was one of the last community in the old convent.

 

Sr M Bernice was the first Secondary teacher at St Joseph’s. (1939)  Sr M Carmella (Nesbitt) was at St Joseph’s in 1933 – 1935 and again in 1941 – 1943 .

 

In July 1954 Wallace Joseph Crowe educated at St Joseph’s studied at St Columba’s College, Springwood and St Patrick’s Manly and was ordained at St Joseph’s Grenfell. 

 

Jennifer Crowe entered St Michael’s Novitate Goulburn where she was professed.

 

On 13th June 1968  Beverley Corkery also entered the novitiate and was professed on 16th January 1977

 

In 1966 Allan Sherry joined the Marist Brothers.

 

Dr Cullinane opened the new Kindergarten School which had been built on the site of the old convent.

 

In July 1975 signs of the impending departure of the Sisters of Mercy was evident.  Sr Augustine, Principal, was replaced by Miss Carol Howlett the first lay principal since the arrival of the nuns in 1887.    The Sisters were farewelled on 4th December 1977.

 

Notable Grenfell dignitaries:  Stan McCabe (cricketer)  Jan Lehane (Tennis)

 

Other religious – the Galvin sisters  Sr M Felicites, Sr. Macrina, Sr. Mary Joan (Aunt) Sr. Noreen.

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