The Early Years
The early history of Macquarie Fields as an outpost of Campbelltown parish, until finally becoming a separate parish in 1977, cannot be told without due acknowledgment of the work of Julius Medvecky. Julius is Hungarian from Slovakia. Julius arrived in Australia with his wife Karen who was from Estonia, in 1949, coming to this area in 1957. He realized that the lack of a local church was a great deprivation. Together with some people Julius learned of the possibility of a church being built in Macquarie Fields, inviting the people to join regularly the Sunday Mass which was at that time celebrated in the Community Hall in Fields Rd.
Sunday Mass would have commenced in 1960. When Julius bought a car in 1961 he committed to drive every Sunday to the Franciscan Friary, “Maryflelds” to bring the priest for Mass. He did this for well over twelve months. Julius built a collapsible altar that could be stored when Mass was over. When the present site of the church became available for a building, it was full of rubbish and Julius single handedly cleared the land. For many years and with different pastors Julius has been a participant in the life of the church.
(Source: Julius Medvecky, Resident since 1957).
Fr. Allan Hartcher, OFM was one of the Franciscan priests who celebrated Mass for the Sunday community that gathered in the
community hall at Fields Rd. Fr. Allan was ordained priest in 1949 in Melbourne, and came to Maryfields helping in the Campbelltown Parish already in 1961. He celebrated Masses on Sundays at Glenfield, Macquarie Fields, and Minto.
The Churches of Christ the King, Glenfield; Our Lady of Sorrows, Macquarie Fields and Holy Trinity, Minto, were all opened and blessed on the same day, 2 September 1962, by Bishop Thomas McCabe. The three churches were all of the same architecture and belonged to the Campbelltown Parish.
The small church erected along Second Ave, had always been called ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’. In February 1977, it officially became the seat of the Parish of Mary Mother of the Church Catholic Parish of Macquarie Fields. The Minto church was demolished to make way for the Minto Mall and the Glenfield church was demolished and the property sold to raise money to build the present church, which was opened and blessed by Bishop William Murray on 5th June 1990.
(Source: Helen Crooks – Resident in the parish since 1954).
Originally Macquarie Fields was part of the Campbelltown Parish, then in 1969 it became part of Ingleburn which became a parish that year. At time Fr O’Hara lived in Macquarie Fields. An Army hut on the site of the present church was erected in 1968 to be used as a Hall for groups such as the Catholic Women’s League, and the Catechists. There was a prayer group associated with the Motor Mission that also used this hall. Money raising activities such as Fetes were held in the grounds of Edgar Street, and Housie was played to help the Catechists and the Motor Mission as no other finance was available.
(Sources: Jean Fell Resident since 1946 and Beryle Eastley Resident since 1965).
In 1954 when Helen Crooks and her husband came to Glenfield the only Catholic Churches were at Liverpool and Campbelltown. There was a chapel at Ingleburn Army Camp, (North Ingleburn) later demolished in the second half of the nineties. Occasionally there was a Mass in the old Progress Hall which was situated in Belmont Road. To celebrate Mass in Glenfield a Carmelite Priest was called for at the Monastery by the parishioners of Ingleburn/ Glenfield. He would celebrate Mass at both Glenfield and Macquarie Fields. Also the priest from Campbelltown would come on occasions.
In December 1961 Trudy Meyerink prepared the children from the local school, and first Communion was held in Belmont Road, Glenfield. When there was no Mass in Glenfield, Catholics would travel by steam train to Liverpool and walk from the station to All Saints. There was an occasional Mass in a Community Hall in Ingleburn, the present site of the Library. A special bus used to pick up any Glenfield or Macquarie Fields people on Sunday. Mass was at 7.00 a.m. Quite often there was only one family on the bus, the Meyerinks.
(Source: Helen Crooks – Resident in the parish since 1954).
Good Samaritan Sisters
In 1962, Bishop Thomas McCabe’s concern for the new areas opening up, especially in Macarthur, resulted in Motor Missions being established in the Diocese. The Motor Mission conducted by the Good Samaritan Sisters commenced in the Macarthur Area, conducted from a small office at the back of the Convent attached to St John’s Boys’ Preparatory School, (later St Patrick’s Girls’ College) in Campbelltown. The schools visited extended from The Oaks & Oakdale to Macquarie Fields Primary, Glenfield Primary, Hurlstone Agricultural High, Glenfield Special School, Ingleburn Primary & High Schools, as well as to Appin, Rossmore, Leppington, and many others. Several Sisters served on this mission.
Only in 1968 we commenced fortnightly meetings of mothers of children in Macquarie Fields. When this was launched we envisaged giving the parents an idea of how religious instruction was presented; what matter was treated; the characteristics of each age group and how the weekly scripture lesson could be supplemented in the home.
(Extract from A short history of the Motor Mission – Good Samaritan Archives).
In 1977, the year a Motor Mission was created a Mission Sister became a Parish worker. The Sisters worked in the area before and after the Convent was opened in 1984. Previously they lived in Campbelltown and Sister Mary Constable lived for a time at Narellan (Mater Dei), travelling here each day. The Sisters were here before James Meehan High School opened in 1974, and before the Department of Housing built their homes and schools. As late as 1990 a Sister travelled from Campbelltown to instruct the children at Guise Primary School.
In 1984, this year the Good Samaritan Sisters purchased two houses which opened as a Convent in Victoria Road. Official opening took place on the 26 January, 1984; a Liturgy of opening was celebrated on that day. The first Mass was celebrated on 2 February 1985, Foundation Day of the Congregation. Sisters who lived in the Convent worked in Ingleburn Holy Family School, two Sisters have been the Principal, Sisters Bernadette Nichols and Beverley Caffery, another Sister worked as home-school liaison, and one as Parish Sister at Macquarie Fields. The Parish Sisters were Sister Roslyn Bond, 1978-1982; before this Roslyn had been on the Motor Mission for two years. Sister Lorraine Victorsen, 1983; Sister Geraldine Boylan, 1985- 1988. The last Parish Sister, was Sister Philomena Barry who was here until 1994.
Sister Mary Constable was Coordinator for Glenquarie Family Support Service in Macquarie Fields 1986 – 1990. She was employed by Family and Community Services for a wage and was the first one to hold this position, and established the service for the first time in Macquarie Fields. She was chosen after an interview of ten applicants. The service was first conducted in Scholastica House (now Samaritan House) the present site of the St Vincent de Paul premises. She later received Housing Commission accommodation at 123 Eucalyptus Drive.
Although there have been deaths in the ranks of those who served here, there are still many ministering in different parts of Australia, fully involved in the spreading of the reign of God, a motivation left as a legacy by our Founder, Bishop John Bede Polding OSB, the first Bishop of Australia and some of the off-shore Islands. It is fitting to recall this work as in Polding’s time he visited this area and brought Good Samaritan ‘Sisters with him on his journeys to instruct the children. At that time they travelled in a horse and buggy, and it was not called Motor Mission.
In 2002, there was still a Sister present in the parish, Sister Doreen Dyson SGS who was able to become involved in the Parish in 2000, and although the ministry changes, the zeal for the kingdom continues.
(See The Letters of John Bede Polding OSB, Vol. 1, 2,3).
“Sr Doreen Dyson was loved by many parishioners for her thoughtfulness. She took part in most liturgies and parish events. She was elected a member of our Parish Pastoral Council 2013-2015, sharing her vision of parish life with us. She kept us very aware of the Good Samaritan Sisters’ role in our parish history, referring to the Legacy of the Founder Bishop John Bede Polding OSB. Sister Doreen worked mainly in pastoral care of the aged residents at the Frank Whiddon Home in Glenfield, where she was greatly loved by the residents and staff. She brought Holy Communion and spiritual consolation to them, and shepherded them to monthly Masses at the Home. When her health failed, she was very happy to become a resident there. Sr Doreen Dyson passed away peacefully on 4th March 2015. Now may she rest in peace and may her good works follow her”.
(Tribute to Sister Doreen Dyson SGS by Peter Brennan at her Requiem Mass on 9th March 2015).
Early Days of the Parish
The first families moved into the new Public Housing Estate during September 1973, after the opening of the first Housing Commission homes. The families belonged to Ingleburn Parish and Father Leo Kearns was Parish Priest. Mass was celebrated at Macquarie Fields in what is now the present hall, and Glenfield Church, Christ the King, (opp. Masonic Homes, Corner of Fawcett St & Canterbury Rd) with Fr Kearns and a Carmelite priest coming mostly every second week. Also a Fr Francis OCD came. James Meehan High and Guise School were opened in 1974. A Parish Sister and Catechists worked in these schools. Curran School was opened later.
In 1977 Macquarie Fields/Glenfield officially became a separate parish, named “Mary Mother of the Church.” Fr Kelvin Sharkey was appointed the first Parish Priest. He lived in a Housing Commission unit opposite James Meehan High until the presbytery was built and blessed in 1980.
In 1979 a Parish Mission was conducted by a team of Redemptorist Missionaries consisting of two Priests, one Brother and a Sister. Morning Mass was in the church, Our Lady of Sorrows, Macquarie Fields. The evening session was in the Community Hall at James Meehan High School. In the words of Mervyn Robinson, it drew the parish together. The priests were accommodated at the Carmelite Monastery. Catechists have been active through the years even before the present church was built. At first the Catechists were from lngleburn until enough became available from here.
In the late 80’s the land at Glenfield was sold to raise money for the present church in Edgar Street to replace the small church, Our Lady of Sorrows, used now as the hall, with a much larger more beautiful Church. On 5 June 1990 the new Church, named Mary, Mother of the Church, was opened by Bishop William Murray. Fr Michael Healy (1982-1992) had already been Parish Priest for eight years, then two more after the opening of the new church. He was followed by Fr Ross Naylor who was Parish Priest for four years (1992-1996); followed by Fr Brian Conaghan, SM as Administrator for four years (1996-2000). In September 2000 the Divine Word Missionaries took responsibility for the parish. Fr Bernard Espiritu SVD became the Parish Priest (2000-2006).
(Source: Marie Billett—Resident since 1973).