St Oliver Plunkett’s Parish Harris Park

History

St Oliver Plunkett’s Church Harris Park
St Oliver Plunkett’s Church, 2009.
Photo Credit: Dawn Willis, Creative Commons

The history of the church in Harris Park is unusual. In his Will, Jack McCreedie, a wealthy merchant and amateur astronomer, decreed that no portion of his land at Harris Park should ever become associated with Catholicism.

However, in 1926, when his home and land went up for auction, a group of Catholics including Rev Dr Sheey, Granville Parish Priest, got together and with a well-supported campaign raised the money to buy the mansion and land.

McReedie’s Allen Street mansion - Kenilworth House - became the convent and juniorate for those considering becoming nuns and was dedicated Mary’s Mount.

When the Convent was established plans were made for building a church and school on adjacent land and the foundation stone was laid in October 1929.

The first Mass was celebrated on Christmas Day 1929. In 1930 the school/church, dedicated to Blessed Oliver Plunkett, an Irish martyr, opened its doors. Blessed Oliver was canonised in 1976 and so the Parish became St Olivers.

Holy Spirit Seminary Harris Park
Blessing of Holy Spirit Seminary at Kenilworth House Harris Park, 26 May 2013. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Over the years many changes have taken place at Harris Park. In 1967, a carpenter was employed to make several renovations to Mary’s Mount. One day, from a dismantled fireplace he unearthed a broken bottle.

Securely and secretly tucked away in a section of the glass bottle was a piece of parchment-like paper wrapped around the tiny statues of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and the Scared Heart.

Where McCreedie once ruled supreme and tried to assert his will from the grave, a new generation of the devout interpret this emergence as a direct result of prayer, especially that first one in the bottle.

In 2013, the heritage-listed Kenilworth House was converted into the new home of Holy Spirit Seminary, the seminary of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.

(Learn more about Holy Spirit Seminary’s move to historic Kenilworth House here or by visiting the Holy Spirit Seminary site)

PARISH PRIESTS  & Administrators

(Established 1940)

Rev John Heaps

Rev Peter Farrelly               1966 – 1973

Rev William McGuiness        1993

Rev Lancy D’Souza             1994 – 1997

Rev Eugene Szondi             1997
(Administrator)

Rev Peter Williams              1998 - 2004

Rev George O’Mara             2005 – 2007
(Administrator)

Rev Joseph Thomas            2007 – 2008
(Administrator)

Rev Arthur Bridge               2008 – 2014

Rev Christopher de Souza   2014 – present