Parish History

Pymble station history

Catholic services have existed on the North Shore since 1852 when visiting priests would hold monthly services in the area. The land on which the Sacred Heart church and parish office is located has been host to Catholic facilities since 1893. The property was first operated by the Sisters of Mercy from the Monte Sant'Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney. It was home to a private boarding college managed by the Sisters for girls from Years 5 to 10 (formerly the Leaving Certificate).

As time passed, the site has become the consolidation of Catholic facilities in Pymble with the Sacred Heart church moving from the Pacific Highway on Pymble Hill (now the Ku-ring-gai Town Hall) and the original Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School for Kindergarten to Year 6 moving from the corner of Telegraph Road and the Pacific Highway. All have been established and expanded on the one site we see today.

The parish is in an area that, prior to 1889, was known as Lane Cove and formed part of the vast parish of St Leonards, (now North Sydney) which was the first parish established on the North Shore of Sydney Cove. St Leonards covered all the territory "embraced in the watery grasp of the Pacific Ocean, Sydney Harbour, the Hawkesbury River, Lane Cove River and Berowra Creek."

We are thankful for and remember the dedication and, in many cases the hardship, endured by all those people - priests, religious, and lay, who have gone before us and who made possible what we are now privileged to enjoy.

Parish Timeline

1852-1856
The First evidence of organised Catholic life in the area that was called Lane Cove refers to Fr Ignatius McLennan, an Irish Benedictine stationed at Ryde, who said Masses (presumably in Catholic homes) once a month.
1856-1867
Fr Peter Powell was appointed the first Parish Priest of the vast St Leonards Parish. He raised 120 pounds and built a wooden church school on Wrights (Pymble) Hill on land donated by Richard Porter and named after Saint Peter and Paul. Lay teachers ran the school but, when state aid was withdrawn in 1882, the Jesuits invited the Sisters from Monte Sant Angelo to operate the school. Initially they made the arduous daily trip but eventually they moved into a primitive residence near the church, originally used by the lay teachers.
1867-1878
Dean John Kenny succeeded Fr Powell, but little is known of his labours in what was still essentially a rural backwater. He has however bequeathed to us a dramatic account of the perils of the trip "up country" when both his horse and he became bogged en route. He retired in 1878 when Archbishop Vaughan entrusted the entire North Shore "mission" to the Jesuits.
1883
Fr Joseph Dalton SJ laid the foundation stone of a new stone church of semi gothic design dedicated to the Sacred Heart, on the same site as the earlier church. Its dimensions were 44ft x 26ft x 13ft high.
1889-1896
Fr Michael McNamara was appointed priest in charge of the newly created Parochial District of Lane Cove which extended from Mowbray Road to the Hawkesbury.
1896-1905
Fr Michael Kirby was priest in charge. During his tenure new schools and churches opened in Chatswood, Waitara and Thornleigh.
1905-1910
Fr Patrick McNulty built the Presbytery which still stands beside the old church on the Pacific Highway. he moved the original wooden building to the Mt St Bernard site on the corner of Bobbin Head Road and the Pacific Highway where it was used as a classroom.
1910-1922
Fr John Rohan was parish priest. He purchased a community hall in Telegraph Road which was used as a school. Parochial boundaries were redefined as Boundary Road to Fox Valley Road. Chatswood and Waitara became separate Parishes.
1923-1930
Fr John Kelly became the first Australian priest in charge. He built a church school in Lindfield in 1926 and extensively refurbished the school hall in Telegraph Road. His Chalice is still in use in our Pymble church today. The Catholic Directory of 1923 refers to the parish as Pymble (not Lane Cove) for the first time.
1930
Fr Patrick Crowley was appointed Parish Priest of Pymble a position he was to hold for an extraordinary 45 years.
1934
Archbishop Kelly laid the foundation stone of the "Spanish Mission" style Church that was opened and dedicated by Archbishop Sheelham in March 1935. The building still stands and is the Ku Ring Gai Town Hall.
1939
Lindfield was established as a separate parish and a new church was built.
1947
Cardinal Gilroy laid the foundation stone for a new parish school on land purchased at the corner of Telegraph Road and the Pacific Highway in 1943.
1948
Wahroonga was established as a separate parish from Pymble.
1953
Cardinal Gilroy blessed and opened the St Ives Church on land purchased by Monsignor Crowley for 8135 pounds. St Ives was separated from Pymble in 1959.
1960
West Pymble church opened on land acquired in 1957 and was separated from Pymble in 1962.
1961
Land was purchased in Vernon Street South Turramurra on which was re-erected, (largely with volunteer labour provided by parishioners), a chapel bought from the Marist Sisters at Woolwhich. It served as a Mass centre until 1985 when it was donated to the new parish of Bonnyring-Edensor Park to be their first church.
1962
Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Catholic Primary School opened in West Pymble and was operated by one Sister of Mercy.
1975
Fr Harry Davis was appointed Parish Priest on Monsignor Crowley's retirement. He inaugurated Pymble's first Parish Steering Committee which later became an elected Parish Pastoral Council.
1979
Fr Davis was confronted with a parish that had the disadvantage of operating from three different sites. The church and presbytery on the Pacific Highway to which convenient access was rapidly being eroded by traffic build up, the Infants school in Telegraph Road, also under threat from traffic noise and pollution and the Primary School operating from the Bobbin Head Road property owned by the Sisters of Mercy.
1980
The Sisters of Mercy made known their decision to withdraw from the Mt St Bernard School and to dispose of the property. They offered the parish first option to purchase. The Regional Bishop and the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney (the Diocese of Broken Bay did not then exist) gave approval to acquire the land and for the parish to raise funds by disposing of properties bequeathed to it in Bannockburn Road and Bobbin Head Road and land the parish owned in Vernon Street.
1982
Construction of a new Infants School building was commenced on the Bobbin Head Road site previously occupied by the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy.
1984
The Telegraph Road property (site of the Infants School) was sold. Negotiations were commenced with the Ku-Ring-Gai Council to build a new Church and Presbytery on the Bobbin Head Road site. The Heritage Council had placed a permanent conservation order on both existing buildings in 1983 which greatly limited the ability of the parish to dispose of them.
1986
The Diocese of Broken Bay was created. Bishop Patrick Murphy was appointed as the first bishop of the Diocese of Broken Bay. Construction began on a parish hall adjoining the Infants School in Bobbin Head Road. It was named the Marian Hall and opened by Bishop Patrick Murphy on 15 November 1987.
1989
The Parish celebrated its centenary. The church and presbytery site was sold to Ku-Ring-Gai Council for $2,500,000. The last Mass was celebrated there on 1 December 1989. The congregation processed with Bishop Murphy carrying the Blessed Sacrament, to the Marian Hall which became an interim Mass Centre.
1990
Fr Davis celebrated the Golden Jubilee of his ordination in a specially erected marquee in the new grounds. Bishop Murphy presided at a solemn sung Mass. Construction commenced on the new Church, Presbytery and Office buildings.
1991
The opening and dedication ceremony of the new Sacred Heart Church was performed by Bishop Murphy on 27 October.
1992
After 17 fruitful years, during which he radically transformed the Parish to meet the needs of future generations, Fr David retired as Parish Priest. He was succeeded by Monsignor Vincent Marley. It was to be the latter's last appointment.
1994
After a long and distinguished priestly career, Monsignor Marley retired due to ill health, and was succeeded by Fr Stephen Hume.
1996
Fr Hume was forced to withdraw from Parish duties due to persistent ill health. Fr John Hill was installed as the tenth Parish Priest of Pymble. Bishop Patrick Murphy retired and was succeeded by Bishop David Walker as the second Bishop of the Diocese of Broken Bay.
1997
Fr Hill became Parish Priest of West Pymble (including Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Primary School) in addition to Pymble, on the retirement of Fr Ashley Jones.
2000
Fr Hill was elected Rector of St John's College within the University of Sydney and resigned as Parish Priest to take up his new appointment.
2001
Bishop Walker invited the Society of the Divine Saviour, commonly known as Salvatorians, a Religious Community, founded in Rome in 1881, to take responsibility for the Parish. Fr Tadeusz Seremet was installed as Parish Priest and Fr George Kolodziej as St Leo's Chaplain on 13 January. Fr Dariusz Basiaga was appointed as Assistant Priest in July. The tenth Anniversary of the opening of the Church was celebrated on 9 December when the Mount St Bernard school on Bobbin Head Road was renamed the Sacred Heart Primary School to better align with the Sacred Heart Parish and Bishop Walker blessed the renovated Infants School.
2001-2019
Salvatorian priests who have served in Pymble Parish include: Fr Tadeusz Seremet, Fr George Kolodziej, Fr Dariusz Basiaga, Fr Mariusz Adamczyk, Fr Zygmunt Wloczek, Fr Roman Wroblewski, Fr Robert Masternak, Fr Boguslaw Loska, Fr Greg Skulski and Fr Christopher Kowalczyk.
2010
As part of the Federal Government's Building Education Revolution, a government grant of $2.5 million provided the Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School with a new administration block with Library, toilet amenities and an undercroft area meeting space for school and parish as well as refurbishment of the Mercy block into classrooms for Years 4, 5, 6 and a Music room.
2013
Bishop David Waker retired as Bishop of Broken Bay on 13 November 2013, when Pope Francis, accepted his resignation upon having reached his 75th birthday. Bishop Peter Comensoli was appointed as the third Bishop of the Diocese of Broken Bay on 12 December 2014, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, under whose protection he has placed his ministry.
2018
Bishop Peter Comensoli retired as the third Bishop of Broken Bay on 29 June 2018 to take up an appointment as the ninth Archbishop of Melbourne. Dr David Ranson was elected Diocesan Administrator for Broken Bay on 3 August 2018 pending the appointment of a new Bishop.