who we are

AND WHAT WE DO

ABOUT US

Holy Spirit Parish was created in 1981 with Fr Brian Rooney as the first Parish Priest, with the help of the Parramatta Sisters of Mercy. It has been in the care of the priests of the Order of Saint Augustine (O.S.A.) or Augustinians since 1995.

The Parish is under Parramatta Diocese and it covers the suburbs of St Clair, Erskine Park and parts of Kemps Creek in Western Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia.  It is 39 kilometers west of the Sydney Central Business District, in the local government area of Penrith and is within the view of the Blue Mountains.

Many ethnic groups make up the members of the parish, mainly from Malta, Philippines, India, Pacific Islands, South Africa and Mauritius. It has a Catholic population of 11,239 (2011 Australian Census), which is 42.2% of the total population.

Our parish enjoys the presence of two Primary Schools and one College —Holy Spirit Primary in St Clair; Trinity Catholic Primary in Kemps Creek, and; Emmaus Catholic College in Kemps Creek.

The life of our community is nourished in many different ways—through our liturgy which is served by wonderful musical talent, by many community, social and pastoral activities, and various initiatives of ministry and outreach that are unique to our parish.

VISION & MISSION

The Mission of the People of God at Holy Spirit Parish is to witness to and to proclaim the word of God, and to pray and celebrate the Liturgy in word and sacraments so that we may be of service to others and form a community of "one mind and one heart on the way to God." – St Augustine.

VISION STATEMENT

Our vision is that we seek to be a community who are:

Welcoming, friendly and hospitable
Open to change, willing to learn, grow and collaborate
Served by the rich diversity of our talent and ethnic composition
Paying particular attention to the needs of families and youth
Used to celebrating both socially and liturgically
Striving to be Christ centred while reaching out to others

PASTORAL TEAM

Holy Spirit Parish is pastored by the Augustinian Fathers, Fr Michael Belonio OSA (Moderator), Fr Sumesh Joseph OSA, Fr Peter Tangey OSA. Their personal and priestly formation, both nationally and internationally together with a wealth of pastoral and educational experience within Australia offer a vast and rich resource in the parish.

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MEMBERS OF PARISH COUNCIL

ST AUGUSTINE

NT; (c) Kingston Lacy; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Aurelius Augustine belongs to North Africa at the close of the Roman Empire 200 miles from the Mediterranean Coast and 2000 ft above it, cut off from the sea by great forests of pine trees. He lives with his father, Patricius and mother, Monica, and as a young boy he is beaten because he loves to play and could not see the use of what he was supposed to learn at school.

One night when 16 with his friends he robs a neighbour’s pear tree of its fruit, for the simple thrill of doing wrong, and throws the pears to pigs. At seventeen he takes a mistress “I was in love with love” he wrote, and at eighteen is the father of a son.

He completes his Roman education at the capital city of Carthage and becomes a teacher, opening his own school in his home town of Tagaste. He finds rowdy students frustrating and difficult.

At thirty, however, he is a professor of liberal arts in Rome and soon wins the appointment as Public Orator in Milan, the imperial capital. To acquire a philosophy of life he tries astrology and joins a strange religious sect called the Manichees. But in Milan he meets a saint, Ambrose, and is converted to Christianity. At Easter time and aged thirty three Augustine is baptised with his son and his best friends. He gives up his work and his ambition to become a Provincial Governor and chooses a celibate life with neither wife nor mistress.

Back in Africa he begins to live as a monk in a community of friends. The pursuit of wisdom is the one goal in his life. His son, Adeodatus, dies aged seventeen. At thirty six Augustine is forced by the people to become their priest, and he is only three years a Christian. In five more years he visits the African City of Hippo, and is forced to become bishop. He says ……"I was made to stand at the helm of the ship when I didn’t even know how to hold an oar." But conversion had flooded his heart with light, he has a brilliant intellect and memory (all of the classics and the whole of the Bible he knows by heart) and he has an all-absorbing faith in God.

LOVE

Love now becomes the one goal of his life. He unifies all existence, all feeling, all knowledge, all friendship into one love, love to the utmost. He founds monasteries to promote the community ideal but he has to govern and teach the Church in his city and in fact he becomes the Christian teacher of the whole Western Empire.

He is faithful to contemplation but makes time to write one hundred and thirteen books. People steal his books to read and publish them before he finishes writing them. Popular even today are his Confessions (autobiography) and his City of God. He leaves behind him 218 letters and 500 sermons.

In the year 430 aged seventy six he dies praying while the great Roman Empire collapses in confusion and attack. Vandals are at the walls of his own city, murder and pillage are everywhere. But he has become a saint, leaving no fortune and making no will.

So Augustine lives a changing and eventful life. It is an age of distress, civilisation falling to pieces around his ears. He has a restless, seeking dissatisfied youth which he later confesses as “sinful”, but peace settles upon his heart at the age of thirty three. He awakens out of doubt and confusion – a wave of religious faith breaks within his mind. He writes that God called to him, broke through his deafness and touched him: “I came to know you late” he prays.

By temperament, before and after this turning point, Augustine is brilliant and eloquent, needing to love and to be loved. He is timid however and finds it hard to give his confidence to others. He knows the difficulty of entering into communication with another person. But once he overcomes that difficulty, what capacity for friendship, what power of attraction! He remains young right to the end of his life with the memory of his childhood and youth always vividly present to him.

He is refined at heart, sensitive to feeling and he loves the truth. His writings: someone said of him “his words have a beauty, an intimacy and a thrill of emotion that I find in no other.”

Sixteen centuries separate us from this Augustine of Hippo. After he died his Christian North Africa disappeared, destroyed; its descendants passed to Islam and now speak Arabic. His land above the pine forests is now called Algeria. But his influence entered Europe, and Augustine is recognised in history as the founder of the Middle Ages and the architect of Western civilisation.

In his teaching he established the patterns of learning upon which the first universities were founded. And our Western contemporary ideals of freedom, progress and social justice owe much to him; he is called in fact the spiritual and intellectual ancestor of the 20 th century. People who read his books today discover that he is a truly modern thinker.

MINISTRIES

To get involved in any of our parish groups or for more information, please contact the parish office.

PARISH HISTORY

  • June 19, 2018

    1981

    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.

  • June 19, 2018

    1981–1982

    Bishop Bede Heather (Left) with Fr. Brian Rooney

    THE FIRST MASS

    The first Sunday Mass for the new parish was celebrated at Our Lady of the Rosary, St Marys on 4th October, 1981 at 9:30am. 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.

    “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.

  • June 19, 2018

    1982–1984

    SISTERS OF MERCY

    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.

  • June 19, 2018

    1983–1985

    BUILDING OUR PARISH

    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. 

    The original parish church was built in 1985 as a multi purpose centre and a temporary place of worship.

  • June 19, 2018

    1994

    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.

  • June 19, 2018

    1995–1999

    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.

    The 1997 Parish Assembly approved the Strategic Pastoral Plan of the parish. Among other things the plan called for the "Creation of a Master Plan for the Entire Refurbishment of the Church to meet Liturgical Requirements." In particular, the plan was to promote the "full and active participation of the assembly" in liturgy.

    In July 1998 ‘A church master plan development committee’ was set up. Its initial members were Fr Peter Wieneke, Fr Peter Confeggi (liturgical consultant), Rod Santos, Jenny Scholfield, Frederick Prins, and John Thomas (chairman). The committee was later expanded to include Marianne Gallagher, Bert Llamas and Fr Peter Tangey.

    To meet the ‘liturgical requirements’ of the Holy Spirit Parish the committee identified the following needs:

    • Provision for a Marian Shrine, Eucharistic Chapel, Baptismal Font, Reconciliation Room, improved acoustics and sound system.
    • Consultation with the broader parish community.
    • Consultation with Diocesan liturgical advisors, acoustic experts and architects.
    • Approval from competent Diocesan authorities.

    On November 8, 1999 the firm of Brian R Dowling and Associates, Architects, in Canberra was selected to undertake the design plans for the refurbishment.

    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.

  • June 19, 2018

    2000–2003

    On Sunday 30 July, 2000, the draft master plan for the refurbishment of the parish centre was presented to parishioners at the annual parish assembly, by which time the name of the Church Master Plan Development Committee had changed to Parish Church Restructuring Committee.

    After a lengthy process of consultation the Parish Pastoral Council approved the new Master Plan on March 28, 2001. Approval from the Diocesan Liturgy Commission and the Bishop was also given at this time.

    Work was completed in 2003 with the final results reflecting the vision of the 1997 Parish Assembly:

    • more of the assembly has been brought to gather around the Eucharistic Table
    • ventilation has been improved
    • there is more natural light in the church
    • the acoustics have improved to assist music and singing
    • there is be a chapel of reservation which will assist prayer and devotion
    • the baptism font has flowing water and allows immersion of infants
    • a space has been set aside for "Our Lady" Chapel
    • the gathering space is now distinct from the worship space
    • the facilities for socialising have been enhanced

    Today we celebrate as a vibrant community in our refurbished Parish Centre. It is spacious and the sound has improved remarkably. All in all a great improvement and a joy in which to Celebrate.