Catholics have lived in Toongabbie since 1791, when Governor Phillip established Toongabbie as the Third Settlement. Recognition of Aboriginal ownership of the land at the time has to be acknowledged today and a debt of gratitude has to be expressed to the Dharug people who were the original occupants.
The 27th May 1928 is a momentous date in the history of the Catholic Church in Toongabbie. On that afternoon a meeting took place in the Cameron home consisting of the Catholics of Toongabbie, Monsignor O’Gorman of Parramatta and Father Furlong where they decided to raise funds to purchase a block of land for a Church.
In June 1928 the Ladies Social Committee was formed and they raised money for this purpose by regular collections and social functions which included dances and euchre parties at local halls.
On Friday 27th July 1928 Monsignor O’Gorman, Father Furlong and parishioners met Arthur Rickard’s representative at Toongabbie Station and purchased land – Lot 45/43 – at a cost of nearly £400.
On Sunday 21st October 1928 after 8.00am Mass in Girraween School of Arts, Monsignor O’Gorman held a meeting of the men and formed a Committee to oversee the building of the proposed Hall. £100 was to be borrowed, from The Australian Bank of Commerce, Parramatta, to pay off the land and put up at least the shell of a hall.
Back Row (L-R): Phil Ryan (d.1958), Don Cameron (d.1976)
Front Row (L-R): Albert Dowse (d.1973), Ed Fitzgerald (d.1938) and Jack Cullen (d.1943)
These men decided on the layout of the hall which was a large floor area, stage, kitchen supper and cards room, balcony and ticket office. Don Cameron was an Engineer and he is the one who drew up all the plans for St. Enda’s Hall. They also had to choose a builder and they chose Ed Fitzgerald who was a local builder, a parishioner and a committee member. Total cost to build the hall was about £400.
The man in the back row on the right is Don Cameron. It was he who wrote the history of St. Enda’s Hall at the request of Father Shepherd. If he had not spent the time writing, typing, drawing and digging up his old diary to refer to as well as supplying us with photos of this time period, we would not have the information that we do today.
On Saturday 27th November 1928 the symbolic first sod was turned and a “tree cutting bee” commenced clearing the site of the hall.
Top Row (L-R) Darcy Doyle, Ron Campbell, Con Ryan, Ted Cummings, - Cox
Front (L-R) Mrs C.E. Cameron, Miss Jean Doyle, Mrs Doyle, Don Cameron
& Cameron’s Water Spaniel “Tiger”
On Saturday 23rd March 1929, the Hall opened to the public and on Sunday 31st March 1929, the first Mass was celebrated at 9.15am. The official opening of St. Enda’s Church Hall took place on Sunday 19th May 1929 by Archbishop Kelly and Monsignor O’Gorman also presided.
(L-R) Monsignor O’Gorman, Mrs A. Dowse, Mr E. Fitzgerald, Obscured?, Mr A.J. Dowse,
Mr “Dick” Swift, Mr Bert Crowhurst
On Friday 8th November 1929 the First Annual Ball was held at St. Enda’s Hall which was a great success. This ball ran annually, together with many other dances, euchre parties as well as a cinema which helped to pay off the loan for the hall.
DEBUTANTES Presented at First Annual Ball Friday 8th November 1929
Back Row (L-R) Mrs McKelvey, Miss Widdup (Matrons of Honour)
Middle Row (L-R) Phyllis McIntosh, Winnie Cullen, Doreen Sadler, Eileen Smith
Front Row (L-R) Elsie Cullen, Sheila McKelvey, Nan Clarke, Thea Newbould, Gladys Cummins, Lil Clarke
Just months after the hall had opened came the Wall Street Crash, the start of the Great Depression. The Great Depression meant that a lot of people lost their jobs and lost their investment money. This made it harder for the Hall Committee to get people to spend their money on dances, balls and euchre parties. The unemployment rate in Australia went as high as 25%, meaning that 1 in 4 people were without work. This did not deter the Committee in planning for more dances and balls, in fact it made them more determined as they had a loan that had to be repaid.
Autumn Dance Friday 18th March 1932
A group – mostly from “Coo-ee” Tennis Club at Cameron’s
In January 1950 some 21 years after St. Enda’s Hall had been built, a primary school commenced in the Hall. The first year’s enrolment at the school in St. Enda’s was 179 children, so there was an obvious need for the school to commence. Classes taught at this time were Kindergarten to Year 4. For the first few weeks of school there were no desks or blackboards in the Hall but eventually they got what they needed. Every Sunday, after the last Mass, men would move the church pews to one side and replace them with the desks and they would reverse this exercise on the following Saturday.
Sister Juliana was the first Principal of the school and together with another nun they travelled to St. Enda’s from the Mercy Convent in Parramatta by bus. As time went by, generous parishioners would drive the Sisters to and from Parramatta.
St. Enda’s became a Parish in its own right with the arrival of Father Canavan on 1st February 1951. Before this time, Wentworthville was responsible for St. Enda’s.
The appointment of Father Canavan as the first and resident Parish Priest raised a new problem in that no presbytery existed. In this situation Father Canavan moved in with the Marist Fathers in Reynolds Street and then took up residence in a small cottage, No. 51 on the corner of Metella Road and Portia Road. In 1952 a residence in Girraween was purchased as a presbytery and officially opened on 20th July 1952. It later served as an administration office for the school when it was built a few years later.
When Father Canavan arrived he also looked around for a suitable site for a primary school. He sold some land the Church owned on Toongabbie Road and purchased the land on the corner of Targo and Girraween Roads for the school. This is now the site of St. Anthony’s Primary School. The school opened on 24th March 1957. The school now catered for Kindergarten to Year 6 and only a few years after opening, its enrolments went up to 414.
St. Anthony’s Primary School in the 1980s
Many renovations and extensions to the school were made over the years:
• 1969 – Building now used by OOSH?
• 1974 – Double storey building for Years 5 & 6 and new kindergarten buildings (still existing) plus?
• 1998 – major building included Multi Purpose Room, Years 3 & 4, canteen plus the administration building
• 2010 – new resource centre and renovations to double storey building and Years 3 & 4 plus old multi purpose room
Plans of the school dated 1998
On 16th December 1958 Father Canavan officially changed the name of the parish from St. Enda’s to St. Anthony of Padua. Apparently this was his own decision as he did not like the name St. Enda.
In 1960 Father Les Bagot became our Parish Priest and in 1962 he was given permission to build a Church and a presbytery.
On 11th March 1962 work commenced on building the church and presbytery.
The church and presbytery was officially opened on 3rd February 1963.
In 1995 Father Bill Moore undertook major refurbishments of the Church, changing the way the Altar faced and where the parishioners were seated. It also added two doorways on each side of the church and transferred some of the stained glass windows which were only on the side facing St. Enda’s to either side of where the Altar now stands. He also arranged for landscaping in the courtyard and also had built the Sacristy and music room at the back of the church.
During the renovations of the church, Mass was again being held at St. Enda’s Hall!
On 15th October 1995 Bishop Bede Heather re-dedicated the Church after its extensive renovations.
PARISH PRIESTS & Administrators
Rev William Canavan 1951-1960
Rev Les Bagot 1960-1969
Rev Ted Shepherd 1969-1979
Rev Maurice McNamara 1979-1988
Rev Noel Short (Administrator) 1984
Rev Anthony Scibberas (Administrator) 1987
Rev William Moore 1988-2007
Rev Joshy Velikkakath (Administrator) 2007
Rev Paul Marshall EV 2007 - August 2014
Rev Joe Manjaly (Administrator) March 2014 - May 2014
Rev Dr Arthur Bridge, AM Sept 2014 - August 2019
Rev Suresh Kumar (Administrator) August 2016 - February 2017
Rev Joe Manjaly (Administrator) March 2017 - January 2018
Rev Joby Kadambattu MS (Administrator) February 2018 - August 2019
Rev Joby Kadambattu MS August 2019 - Present
Rev Bill Dougherty 1952-1962
Rev Mic Harfield 1963-1965
Rev Brian Pierce 1966-1970
Rev Peter Henry 1970-1971
Rev Kevin English 1971-1973
Rev Gordon South 1974
Rev Brian Rooney 1974-1976
Rev Mark Bibrowicz 1976-1977
Rev Dennis Hunter 1978
Rev William Moore 1979-1980
Rev Ron McFarlane 1980-1984
Rev Peter Blayney 1982-1984
Rev Joe Camilleri 1984-1985
Rev Harry Payne 1985-1986
Rev Paul Smith 1986-1988
Rev Henk Eijkman 1988-1989
Rev Richard Masin 1989
Rev Paul Roberts 1990
Rev Henry Duc Tran 1993-1996
Rev Peter Woodward 1996-1999
Rev Timothy Hogan 1999-2007
Rev Sunil Paul Nagothu SVD 2011- 2013
Rev Larry Tolentino 2013 - July 2014
Rev Leon Decina Sept 2014 - December 2015
Rev James Phelan Sept 2014 - December 2017
Rev Galbert Albino December 2017 - December 2018
Rev Rodrigh Rupac 2020 - April 2022
The history of our Parish is a work in progress. Barbara is currently working on an updated book on the history of the parish. If you are able to contribute documents, photos, stories or anything at all, please do not hesitate to contact