The parochial district, later known as Holy Spirit Parish, St Clair was founded on 1st October, 1981, after it became clear that a large and rapid housing development was planned for the area. The site for the parish was chosen by a group comprising the then Regional Bishop of the Outer Western Region of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Bishop Edward Clancy, later the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney Archdiocese. The bishop who succeeded Bishop Clancy as Regional Bishop was Bishop Bede Heather and he negotiated the final purchase of the property in 1980. The challenging task of developing this new parish was entrusted to Fr Brian Rooney, the first Parish Priest. In 1986, because of the developing population, the Outer Western Region of the Archdiocese of Sydney became a Diocese, known as the Diocese of Parramatta. Bishop Bede Heather was appointed the first Bishop of the Diocese of Parramatta. Bishop Bede, until his retirement in 1997, always showed a keen interest in and pastoral leadership for this fledgling parish.

The first Sunday Mass for the new parish was celebrated at Our Lady of the Rosary, St Marys on 4th October, 1981 at 9.30 a.m. A meeting in the parish meeting room following. Approximately 80 people attended the first meeting.

After that, Saturday Vigil and Sunday morning Masses were celebrated in the auditorium of St Clair Primary School, Timesweep Drive. Prior to the building of a Parish Centre the parish rented a house for Fr Brian Rooney in Banks Drive and later on, one in Napunyah Way.

Daily Mass was celebrated in Fr Rooney’s residence. Baptisms were celebrated in Our Lady of the Rosary Church, St Marys, in the Auditorium of the School, after Mass or in people’s homes. During the first two years the number of baptisms grew steadily from one per week to three. By 1986 the number of baptisms grew to five per week. In 1999 there is an average of four baptisms each week.

Many planning meetings were held during 1981 – ‘82. Following a successful appeal to other parishes within the region, financial as well as material donations were received. This enabled the parish to make a start.

In choosing a name for the parish the people thought it unwise to focus on a Saints’ name because of the name of the suburb, St Clair. After much discussion and soul searching Holy Spirit was chosen.

Bishop Bede Heather (Left) with Fr. Brian Rooney
“Let’s hope we always live as a Spirit-filled parish and ever ask for the release of His Life within us in our attempt to grow into the mustard tree of the Gospel.”

- Fr. Brian Rooney, 10 Year History Book – Holy Spirit Parish, 1991.

In 1982 three Sisters of Mercy of the Parramatta Congregation were appointed to assist in the parish. Sr. Joan Keogh, Sr Noni Ball and Sr Patricia Bolster. Sr Joan continued to work as Pastoral Associate in the parish until April 1994. Sr Patricia was appointed the first principal of Holy Spirit Primary School in 1984, and Sr Noni worked in the field of Drama until 1987. Originally the sisters lived at Doonside until the Sisters of Mercy built a Convent at 19 Todd Row in 1984. Although the sisters are not active in the parish at present, the convent is still used by the Sisters.

Early in 1984 the Parramatta Sisters of Mercy offered the services of a Youth Team to the area. Sister Mary Louise Petro, Jennifer Clarke and Anthony Murray were members of the Mercy Youth Team in 1984-’85. Sister Patricia Brady and Tony Isaacs served on the Team in 1986-’87.

Through visiting families and working with youth this team discovered that an urgent need for the area was the issue of unemployment of young people. The Sisters of Mercy responded by establishing the Mamre project. Now twelve years later the Mamre Project continues to offer valuable training and job opportunities to the local community and beyond.

Our first Pastor, Fr Brian Rooney, was assisted over the years by Fr Paul Coleman SJ, Deacon Fred & Martha Sansone (albeit briefly), Fr Wim Hoekstra, Fr Paul Venticinque, Fr Don Griffin, and also Deacon Peter Connolly for a brief time.

The building of the Parish Complex, commenced with Stage I, the Parish Centre, main hall, and was completed in November 1983. The building of Stage II, the Presbytery, Church Foyer, Parish Offices, Kitchen and group meeting rooms, was completed in 1985.

In 1994 Sr Joan resigned from her position as Pastoral Associate to undertake a renewal program. Pauleen West was then engaged as Pastoral Associate until January 1996. In December 1994, Fr Brian Rooney, the first parish priest of St Clair, resigned and for two years managed the House of Prayer at East Kurrajong. To replace Fr Rooney Bishop Bede Heather negotiated with the Augustinian Fathers to pastor the Parish. In January 1995 Fr Brendan Quirke OSA as Moderator, Fr Paul Maloney OSA, Fr Peter Wieneke OSA, were assigned to the parish. These three priests together with the staff, worked as a team until December 1998. Fr Brendan Quirke OSA was then transferred to Coorparoo, Brisbane, and Fr Paul Maloney OSA to the Augustinian Spirituality Centre at Greystanes. To replace them, Fr Peter Wieneke OSA was appointed Moderator, Fr Peter Tangey OSA came from Mareba and Fr Jim Bolton OSA came from Brisbane.

In July 1999 Sr Johanna Conway, RSM, temporarily joined the team as Pastoral Associate until December 1999.

In terms of buildings, the Diocese purchased a house in Peter Pan Glen as the priory for the Augustinian Fathers. The existing presbytery was slightly re-modelled to serve as better office and meeting spaces for the parish. In 1998 planning commenced to refurbish the parish liturgical space in line with official Liturgical norms.



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