Safeguarding Background

Bushfire alert - possible closure of parishes

The following letter was sent to all parishes this afternoon, 11 November. To check if churches are closed in your area, please contact your parish office.


We have been notified that tomorrow, Tuesday, 12 November that both Sydney and the Central Coast are to face a catastrophic fire danger. This is the first time that the regions have faced the catastrophic fire danger warning since the risk levels were introduced in 2009. This is the highest level of bushfire danger.

Safety of people is paramount and we recommend you listen carefully to local advice throughout the day.

In preparation for tomorrow, with buildings not designed to withstand fires at this level, combined with the heat and effects on air quality, it is going to be necessary to close some Parish Offices and Churches. The Catholic Schools Office has already advised earlier today that the following Schools will be closed:

• St Bernard’s, Berowra
• St Martin De Porres, Davidson
• Holy Cross, Kincumber
• St Brendan’s, Lake Munmorah
• St Brigid’s, Lake Munmorah
• Our Lady Star of the Sea, Terrigal
• St Mary’s, Toukley
• St Peter’s, Tuggerah
• St John Fisher, Tumbi Umbi
• MacKillop Catholic College, Warnervale
• Mater Maria, Warriewood
• Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, West Pymble
• St John the Baptist, Woy Woy
• St Paul's Catholic College, Manly

We strongly advise that the Parish Offices and buildings at these locations should also be closed officially tomorrow.

In addition, Churches on these sites need to be closed, with Masses cancelled.

Presbyteries at these locations need to be ready for evacuation, with evacuation plans and alternative routes identified. Please move to a safer place.

Additionally, other locations that have been identified as ‘vulnerable areas’ also need to be closed, with no Masses, work or activities taking place at these sites. These include:
• St Benedict’s, Arcadia
• Holy Trinity, Spencer
• St Anthony in the Fields, Terry Hills
• Holy Cross, Kincumber South
• Immaculate Heart of Mary, Killara

If any other Schools are announced to be closed in addition to the above (or other adjacent services are closed) and are co-located at the site of your churches or parish offices, please ensure you also close those churches or parish offices as well.

Please note that all Diocesan parishes will also need to assess the situation as circumstances change.

Please ensure you close buildings and cancel Masses if there is a likelihood of danger. The danger includes not only fire, but smoke and the forecasted heat. If in doubt, close and cancel.

Please ensure you communicate the closure and cancellation to all staff and anyone likely to be attending. If possible please update your websites with the information, email, text, call, change notice boards and put up notices.

Many of your staff also travel a distance to work. If that travel could put them in danger, please advise staff to stay at home. We also recognise that some staff may be safer coming to work than at their homes and would encourage them to do so in that circumstance, but that they are first to discuss with their employer, Parish Priests.

At this stage the catastrophic fire danger is due to dissipate after Tuesday. We will need to monitor the situation before resuming all activities. You will need to close and remain closed if it may be dangerous. We will look to provide a further update when one becomes available.

Please continue to visit the Rural Fire Service: to remain updated throughout the day.


To report a fire emergency
• Call Triple Zero (000)
• If you are deaf or have a speech or hearing impairment call 106
For information on fires
• Check our Fires Near Me page for current incidents
• Listen to local media
• Check social media such as NSW RFS Facebook and NSW RFS Twitter
• Bush Fire Information Line - 1800 679 737
• If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment, contact us through the National Relay Service:
o TTY users phone 1800 555 677 then ask for 1800 679 737
o Speak and Listen users phone 1800 555 727 then ask for 1800 679 737
o Internet relay users connect to the NRS then ask for 1800 679 737
o To report a fire or emergency (TTY users only), access TTY 106.

Emma McDonald
Diocesan Financial Administrator