St Anthony's Parish, Clovelly

Parish Priest: Fr Pawel Kopczynski
Parish Secretary: Mrs Jones
Contact number: 9665 2711

Weekend Masses

Saturday Vigil 5.00pm
Sunday 8.00am & 10.00am

A brief history of St Anthony's Parish Clovelly

Franciscan Era (1917-1930)

The area that is now Clovelly parish was originally part of the Franciscan district administrated from Waverley, where Franciscan community was established from Ireland in 1879.

By 1916 the Catholic population of Clovelly was big enough to warrant a separate church. Clovelly Catholics involved in planning this included Mary Anne Nolan, Mr. and Mrs. Brady, Mrs. Halley, Mrs. Vaughan, James Redmond, Peter Fitzpatrick and Owen Nolan. A block of land (all rock and scrub) in Arden St. was bought from Peter Fitzpatrick, and cleared on Saturdays by the team of voluntary workers including Fr Michael Paul Kelly, pastor of Waverley. The foundation stone was finally laid by Archbishop Kelly on the 12 th of August, 1917.

This first parish building was a one storey church school designed and built by a Mr. Moriraty of Melbourne. The first Mass was celebrated in it on the fourth Sunday of Advent, 23 December 1917, by Fr Kelly. This first parish building now forms the lower part of the ground floor of the current school.

The building was officially blessed and opened by Archbishop Kelly on Sunday 20th January 1918. Among the fittings given by the parishioners were many items seen in the current church, including the Baptismal font, given by Mr. and Mrs. Graham to the Stations of the Cross and statue of St Joseph, given by Sir Denison and Lady Miller Sacred Heart given by Mary Anne Nolan; and statues of St. Anthony given by Mares Wood of Randwick, and Our Lady by Mr.and Mrs.O’Connor.

The Sisters of St Joseph (Brown Josephites) agreed to conduct the school, and it opened on Monday 28 th of January 1918 with 45 pupils. For the first year Sister Louis Gonzaga and Sister Mary Leonris came to Clovelly from their convent at Bondi.

However, in January 1919 the Sisters took up residence at 73 Fern Street, in a cottage rented from a Mr. Wilson. By then Fr Kelly had relinquished charge of Waverley and moved to Clovelly as pastor.

In February 1918 he rented a cottage at 2 Greville Street from Mary Anne Nolan, but in July 1918 moved to another rented cottage at 46 Greville Street (on the corner of Fewing Street). A year later, while Fr. Kelly was on a home visit to Ireland, the Sisters moved into this cottage; it was purchased by the parish in 1921, and remained the convent until 1954. When Fr. Kelly returned, he apparently moved into a cottage at 69 Arden Street (demolished in 1986). This cottage (called St. Anthony) remained the property of the Franciscans when they relinquished Clovelly in 1930.

The school was overcrowded by government standards so a second storey was added in 1921. The architect was J. Gilroy and the builder was a parishioner, James Redmond.

The extension was blessed on 23 April 1922. The Catholic population of Clovelly continued to grow, and a new church was needed. An adjoining block of land fronting Arden Street had been bought by the parish in 1924. The appeal for the new church was opened in March 1925, and in January 1926 the plans were approved by the church committee, which included Owen Nolan, J.R links, E.F Coolahan, R.F. O’ Sullivan, C.Mcarthy, E. Wilson, T. Phipps, M.Lee, T. Finneran, J. Lynn and T.P Lynn.

The first Mass was celebrated in the new church by Fr. Kelly on Trinity Sunday, 12 th June 1927. The church was blessed on the afternoon of the same day, this time by the Rt. Reverend Dr. Bach, vicar apostic of the Gilbert Islands, recently ordained a Bishop at Randwick ( Archbishop Kelly was ill ). The parish had been growing in other ways between 1917 and 1926. Its original boundaries were: Macpherson Street, Leichhardt Street, Douglas Street, Carrington Road, Susan Street (Clovelly Road) and the Pacific Ocean. In 1924 a large area was added to Clovelly parish on the Coogee side of Clovelly road, when the southern boundary was moved to Alison Road and Moore

Street. A small triangular area was also added on the northern side by making the northern boundary run beside Varna and Fern Streets from Leichhardt Street to Douglas Street.

Monsignore John Muirhead (1935-1962)

Monsignor People's died suddenly in 1935, and Father (later Monsignor) John Muirhead was appointed as Parish Priest. He institued a weekly house-to-house collection to improve the parishes financial position, and started a monthly bulletin, the ‘Clovelly Catholic Church Chronicle' to record receipt of the money collectors and publicise parish events.

Monsignor Muirheads great desire was to beautify the interior of St Anthony’s Church. The Silver Jubilees of the parish in 1942 provided a good opportunity for a special appeal. People gave generously and by the end of 1944 Clovelly had a marble high altar, side altars, communion rail and sanctuary floor, all of which we still see today.

The Calvary shrine was constructed in 1938 and St. Anthony’s shrine in 1943, both in unneeded confessionals. The church and altars were solemnly consecrated on 16 Febuary 1944 by Dr. Simmonds, the co-adjustor Archbishop of Melbourne.

Adjoining land in Fewing Street was bought in 1945 for a new convent. The foundation stone was laid on 4 October 1953, and the convent was opened on 11 July 1954, free of debt. Monsignor Muirhead had visited every parish home to solicit donations, and the parishioners had given generously.

However the Sisters of St Joseph never enjoyed the comforts of the new convent. They left the parish at the end of 1947, to be replaced by the Presentation Sisters.

The grounds of the church and school were also taking the shape we know today during monsignor Muirheads pastorate, much of the work accomplished with the voluntary labor of the men of the parish. The Muirhead years also saw Flourishing the various sodalities and organizations for lay people such as the holy name Society, sacred Heart Sodality, children of Mary, catholic action, catholic youth organization, legion of Mary, legion of catholic women. The parish school was achieving notable successes in the academic and cultural field, and was particularly famous for its choir.

Monsignor Muirhead died in January 1962, just four months earlier he had installed the beautiful ‘ Gethsemane’ sanctuary gates now in St. Anthony’s shrine.

Monsignor Daniel Hannan (1962-1970)

An Irishman, Monsignore Daniel Hanna, was appointed to replace Monsignor Muirhead. His era saw the introduction of many changes resulting from the second Vatican council, including mass facing the people and the use of English at Mass.

In 1963 the marble pulpit was erected in memory of Monsignor Muirhead, and the southern sacristy was added to the church around 1965. In a major reorganisation of Catholic Education, the school lost its secondary classes in 1963, and became a primary school only, with boys allowed to complete Year Four. In 1967, the parish celebrated it

Golden Jubilee.

To accommodate Mass facing the people, the Halley family donated an altar in memory of the unsung pioneers of the parish. Monsignor Hannan retired to Ireland in 1970, where he died in 1986.

Fr. Martin Predergast (1970-1984)

Fr. Martin Prendergast was Clovelly’s next Parish Priest. In 1971 the radio Mass began to be broadcasted weekly from the convent chapel, with Fr. Prendergast as celebrant and Clovelly parishioners forming the choir. Lay readers, acolytes and special ministers of the Eucharist were introduced during Ft. Prendergast time, and the Clovelly folk group was started, bringing a new music style to the liturgy.

A major extension and renovation to the school was done in 1975. Father Prendergast died in Brisbane in 1984.

Fr. George Connolly (1984-2010)

Fr. George Connolly came to Clovelly from Elizabeth Bay in December 1984. Under his direction, a new planned giving program was started to finance the building of a parish hall/ centre, and Clovelly’s first pastoral council was set up. Fr Connolly retired in 2010.

Fr. Janusz Bienek (2010-2013)

Fr Janusz Bienek began as Parish Priest of Clovelly in September 2010 bringing the Michaelite Charism to St Anthony's. He worked with the school for the Sacramental Programs. Saturday evening Parish / Family Vigil Masses were begun during his time at St Anthony’s.

Fr. Pawel Kopczynski (2013-current)

Fr Pawel began as administrator of St Anthony’s parish in September 2013 and continues with the Michaelite Charism. He is also the Chaplain at Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick. Fr Pawel works closely with the school Leadership Team to seek ways to re-evangelise our Parish & School communities.