On 18 December, 1850, Michael Gannon purchased 1905 acres from the estate of Captain John Townson whose grant of crown land “took in the whole of the present suburbs of Hurstville and Carlton reaching almost to Kogarah Bay”.Michael Gannon transferred the ownership of two acres of his land to the Most Reverend John Bede Polding on 24 November, 1855 as a site for a Catholic church; because there were few Catholics then living in the district no buildings were erected.
Almost thirty years has passed before a meeting of Catholics under the chairmanship of Rev. Placid Quirk, decided to build on this land a temporary church with the name ‘St Michael’.
The foundation stones of the church (cum school house) and of the convent for the Sisters of Charity who were to teach there, were laid on 2 May 1885 by Archbishop Moran. The buildings were blessed and opened in October the following year by the Archbishop.
The coming of the railway to Hurstville increased the population, and soon a larger church was needed. This building, which accommodates up to 400 people, was opened on 16 May, 1909 and is the still present parish church. The Presbytery was built in 1914.
The latest shape you see now after the alterations and additions to the old building was blessed on 18th June of the jubilee year 2000. The new administration block in the presbytery was built in 2007.
Some of the priests fondly remembered are Fr Arthur Mahr (1965-1993), Fr. Thomas Dunlea (1955-1970), Fr Ron Harden (1970-2005), and Bishop Rev David Cremin (1974-2010). At present Rev Fr Janusz Bieniek is our Parish Priest.
According to the latest census, of the 4000 Catholics in Hurstville area, almost 850 attend the weekend masses. Major ethnic groups after Australians coming to our Church are Italians, Chinese, Filipinos, Croatians, Indonesians and South Americans.
Attached to the Church is our primary school, St Mary’s Star of the Sea, and our high school, Bethany College. We give strong focus to the faith formation and sacramental celebrations of the children and supporting young families. Ours is a very vibrant and active parish. Supporting and caring for each other, accepting and respecting our diversity draws the community together in Christ. At present there are over 200 parishioners who are directly involved in various church ministries and parish activities. We heartily welcome all new comers, all those who are interested to know about the faith, as well as those who have been away to come and join our Parish family.
Activities held over the last 3 years at
St Michael’s Parish
1) Devotion to St Michael the Archangel and the Holy Angels
Every Tuesday at 7 pm.
This devotion started in October 2013 and initially was held every first Tuesday of the month. The current booklet (which includes St Michael’s Canon and Adoration Prayer of Blessed Fr Bronislaw Markiewicz) was drafted and approved for use by February 2014 in time for the blessing of the Pilgrim Statue of St Michael by Cardinal Pell. Around this time, the decision was made to hold the devotion on a weekly basis. The devotion always included Benediction. About 20 to 30 people regularly attend. Every first Tuesday of the month the Litany to St Michael is recited and teaching is given by Fr Janusz.
2) Perpetual Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Every Saturday at 9.30 am.
This was started up by Fr Bill Heng CssR at St Michael’s in January 2014. Petitions and thanksgiving letters written by parishioners and from Singapore are read out. Benediction is always included. By mid-2015 the Michaelites have taken over from Fr Bill Heng CssR. More recently, the novena prayers have been led by the laity with the Benediction presided over by a Michaelite priest. Attendance is usually about 30 to 40 people. There is opportunity to avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this time.
3) The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program is available at St Michael’s. It is offered in English, Cantonese and Mandarin. The Cantonese and Mandarin groups have their Catechumens/Candidates received into the Church every second year at the Easter Vigil Mass. The sessions are held every second Sunday for about 12 to 18 months. The English group holds the Sacraments of Initiation throughout the year but especially during the Easter Vigil Mass. The sessions are held every week from about June/July to Easter of the following year. There are about 20 people received into the Catholic Church through RCIA every 12 months.
4) The Sacramental Program for children include the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation. Attendance is about 45 children per program, mostly coming from the parish school but about 5-10 children come from the surrounding public schools.
5) The Legion of Mary is active at St Michael’s. There is one praesidium with 11 active members. There is close liaison between the Legionaries and Fr Janusz. Their service to the parish include: taking Holy Communion to those unable to come to Mass, catechesis for public school primary students, being part of the RCIA and the Sacramental Program, visiting parishioners on behalf of Fr Janusz and active involvement in Liturgy.
6) The Marian Movement of Priests Cenacle with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is held weekly in the Church and attended by about 5 people.
7) A Spanish prayer group is held every week within the Parish and Mass in Spanish is held every Saturday evening.
8) A Croatian Prayer group with emphasis on Marian devotion meets every week.
9) There is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament every Friday morning.
10) Mass in Cantonese is held every second Sunday and Mass in Mandarin is also held every second Sunday.
1) Novena to St Michael the Archangel and Celebration of St Michael Feast Day
Since the Michaelites took over the pastoral care of the parish three years ago, we have had the Novena to St Michael (in the last 2 years we have used the current Novena Booklet). About 20 people attend the Novena. The Feast Day which is celebrated on a Sunday is well attended (held in the school hall), with parishioners bringing food to share. For the Feast Day weekend, the parishioners come to the 10 am Mass and the Novena prayers are said afterwards. Lunch is then served. There is plenty of opportunity for parishioners to catch up with each other; music is provided by the Spanish community for dancing and singing.
2) Novena to Divine Mercy and Celebration of Divine Mercy Feast Day
For the last 3 years, St Michael’s has had the Novena to the Divine Mercy. In the last 2 years we have sung the Chaplet for the Novena and Feast Day. About 10-15 people attend the Novena. The Feast Day is celebrated with Exposition and Benediction and there is opportunity for Reconciliation (Mass was also celebrated apart from this year). About 80 people attended this year’s Feast Day.
3) Every year the parish also holds a Christmas Party.
1) Installation Mass of Michaelites and Fr Janusz as well as Blessing of Pilgrim Statue of St Michael on February 2014. Catered dinner afterwards was held.
Three weekend long retreats over the last 3 years led by:
1) Fr Peter Prusakiewicz CSMA
2) Fr Bill Heng CssR
3) Fr Maciej Hulas
1) Raising funds for PNG by distributing donated wine to different parishes on the weekend over the last 18 months.
2) Fundraising dinner with fashion show and auction in 2014.
3) Fundraising dinner with fashion show in 2015.
~~Valerie Gonzaga 2016