Our History

In 1958 people had moved into houses built by the Housing Commission. They were built on the north side of Lucas Road, bounded by Johnson Avenue, Vardys Road, Sunnyholt Road and Stephens Street, running up to Sackville Street. Father O'Connor was the Parish Priest of Seven Hills and people of Lalor Park had to go to the Community Hall at Artillery Crescent Seven Hills for Mass.

The Sydney Morning Herald of January 9th 1961 described the Housing Commission site 2364 (Lalor Park) as 'the suburb in need of a soul’. The story noted: "The Roman Catholics hire a bus to take some of Lalor Park's 500 Catholic families to Mass at Seven Hills. A 25,000 pound Catholic School-cum-Church will be completed next month. There is certainly room for plenty of progress to be made." There were no buses and the railway station at Seven Hills had a level crossing and boom gates.

In February 1961 Lalor Park separated from the mother Parish of Seven Hills. Fr. Hugh Leonard was appointed by Cardinal Gilroy as the founding Pastor of Lalor Park and set about building a church/school. All the classrooms were mobile partitioned for quick changeover into a church on the weekend. The Sisters of St Joseph would come from Baulkham Hills Novitiate to teach at St Bernadette's Parish School. In December 1963 a convent was built for the Sisters to live on site. The parish had a debt of $50,000 and a postage stamp block to build a parish.

Where the new Parish Centre is now (14 Wheeler Street) Fr. Leonard bought a fibro house and had it erected for his own use as a Presbytery and the various ministries of the parish. Fr Tim Crowley was appointed as assistant priest by Cardinal Gilroy as the parish had grown quickly. Fr. Crowley was then appointed as a hospital chaplain and there were a succession of other assistant priests - Fr. Hannan, Fr. Foley, Fr. Stephens and Fr. Rooney. Fr. Leonard heard that The Housing Commission was going to build on the land where the present church and presbytery are built. He used his influence and connections to buy the land for the parish. Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the St Bernadette's new church in 2006 might not have happened but for the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

The site now occupied by the Church and Presbytery was always thought to be part of the reserve that borders the school and extends from Wheeler Street through to Venn Avenue and beyond. In the early 60's, and long before construction of the oval and the flood retention basin, the only reasonably flat area for St Bernadette's football teams to train on was the area in question. However, to everyone's dismay, as if by magic, foundations, bricks and house frames were dropped onto the area. The Housing Commission had contracted for the erection of three houses on site. Imagine the panic and consternation!

Houses on 'our' football practice ground! And to be built immediately adjoining the Church and school. Plenty of prayers, novenas by the goodly Nuns, consultation by Fr Leonard with the Archbishop (the parish was still in the Sydney Diocese) and no doubt meetings with friendly Members of Parliament and the Housing Commission followed. The result was the purchase of the land by the Diocese, the removal of building materials and a payment to the builders covering profits forgone. Finally the parish had a site that our Church and Presbytery now occupies. The Holy Spirit definitely had input and I am sure that St Bernadette also did her share. With the population expanding, a parish and school assembly hall was built in 1971 and two kindergarten classrooms were added later, in 1980.

1970

P & F hold first “Observation Trial” (Car Rally). P & F holds first Walkathon, after much discussion and not all members agreeing. The date 9th Aug 1970. July 1970 Mrs Legge introduces the idea of a Mother’s Club to meet during the day; however Fr Leonard thought this may conflict with current committee. Music rooms and additional school rooms are built, despite ongoing builders strikes. Pope visits Australia. Contract to build School Hall accepted at $70,000.

1971

School Hall is started. Sister Gertrude collects Heinz Food Can labels as the collection of 1400 labels would earn the School $10. Electric fans are installed in classrooms. Progressive Dinner held July 11th in the homes of Messrs Eyers, Beggs, Cardoll and Montgomery. Sister Gertrude announces that nuns would be reverting to their Christian names. Softball starts at St Bernadette’s under Mrs Foster.

Fr. Leonard was eventually appointed to Croydon Parish. People were sad to see him go, as he had started the parish. There is no doubt that the untiring work of the first Pastor, Fr. Hugh Leonard, together with the support of the assistant priests and Sisters of St Joseph, and encouraged by the Catholic community, made a significant contribution both spiritually and socially to the new area.

Fr. Tim Crowley was appointed Parish Priest in 1979 by Cardinal Freeman and then proceeded to build a new church and presbytery which were completed in 1981. The church was solemnly dedicated under the title of St Bernadette by Bishop Bede Heather, Bishop for the outer western region of the Sydney Archdiocese on 27th September 1981. The architect of the church was Mr. Tony Battah. "The new St Bernadette's has a most original design. It slopes steeply upwards at one end to signify our rise to spirituality. Colourful stained glass windows and a large cross outside the building make it a prominent landmark. Over the altar is a statue of the Eternal Priest, Jesus Christ." (Catholic Weekly 1981) The new church was built to accommodate 450 parishioners.

In 1984 there was a disastrous fire at the school which had to be rebuilt. In August 1989 the Daily Telegraph reported: "Lalor Park is a quiet area with good schools, great transport and ideal for young families."

The new Parish Centre in Wheeler Street was built in 1991 with a self contained flat for a priest to stay. During Fr. Tim Crowley's time as Parish Priest (1979 - 2002) the parish had the following assistant priests: Fr. Dias, Fr. Paul Hollis, Fr. Graham James, Fr. Jim Fowler, Fr. Fernandes, Fr. Zvonimir Gavranovic, Fr. John Goulding, Fr. Kevin Walsh, Fr. Henry Duc and Deacons Gabor Szabo and Joseph Formosa.

When it was proposed that the North-West sector be developed for private housing, it seemed reasonable to extend the boundary of St Bernadette's parish from Meurants Lane to the intersection of Sunnyholt Road and Old Windsor Road. This suggestion was accepted by the Diocese and the boundaries were changed to meet the pastoral needs of this new area, which is now known as Glenwood.

It was proposed that land be bought in the vicinity of what is now the intersection of Glenwood Park Drive and Forman Avenue. Here a Catholic Primary School would be built together with an imaginatively planned multi-purpose building to double as a parish hall and church, much the same as happens in expanding areas of the United States. This plan would not come to fruition as a second Catholic Primary School, Holy Cross, was built on Meurants Lane.

Now there were two Catholic Primary Schools in the parish. While Holy Cross was on the drawing board, the pupils of Holy Cross were accommodated in portable classrooms at St Bernadette's. In October 2002, Glenwood would be cut off from Lalor Park, a new parish established, Glenwood - Stanhope Gardens, under the title of John XX111 and the boundaries of St Bernadette's restored to their original position.

Lalor Park used to have the nick names of Nappy Valley and Dodge City for the number of babies and outstanding credit owed! In the sports and cultural areas over the years the Inskip family were the backbone of the girl's netball, Brian Williams, Jimmy Boys, Keith Boiden, John Fields and Fr Crowley were renowned for football, the Sheridan boys for cricket and the Field family for the band Cockroaches and our now world famous Wiggles.

Housie has played a great part in financing the parish. It started on a Friday night in St Patrick's Parish Hall, Patrick Street Blacktown, and then transferred to St Bernadette's Parish Hall, and continued for 38 years, until it finally ceased in September 2000.

On Saturday 3rd November 2001 the parish celebrated a combined 100 years of St Bernadette's LalorPark. (40 years - Parish and School, 30 years - Hall, 20 years ­Consecration of 2nd Church, 10 years - Parish Centre). The Centenary Liturgy on Saturday 3rd November 2001 at 6pm was followed by a Dinner Dance. The Mass was a deeply moving and memorable experience. The efforts of the choir and musicians were exceptionally beautiful, as was the wonderful symbolism used both with the proclamation of the Gospel and Offertory Procession. The Dinner Dance was a great success; the food was terrific, the band great and the company exceptional. The Parish Hall looked fantastic, decorated in a creative manner. A real sense of community and belonging was evident during the Centenary Celebrations.

Fr. Tim Crowley retired after 23 years of Pastoral Ministry as Parish Priest at St Bernadette's LalorPark and Fr. Andrew Robinson was appointed the third Parish Priest on June 2nd 2002 by Bishop Kevin Manning, Bishop of Parramatta.

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