1880s – 1920s
Back in the 1880’s, modern Daceyville, which was Crown land, went by the name of Raggetty Flat – a spot where numbers of homeless folk lodged under canvas. Later, a different type of population began to settle there: these were largely English immigrants who could not get a house anywhere in Sydney. So the Government temporarily housed them in tents on this land which then became known among locals as Canvas Town. Among the inhabitants was a fair sprinkling of Catholics who were incorporated in the adjoining Parish of Kensington. In January of 1913, the Housing Board asked Archbishop Kelly if the Catholic Church was interested in participating in a ballot for sites to erect religious buildings in the then named Dacey Garden Suburb. The Archbishop accepted the invitation and the Church was awarded a site of just over 2 acres (0.825 ha bounded by Banks and Haig Avenues).
In May 1914, Father Kirby, PP of Kensington, announced that the OLSH sisters from Kensington would commence teaching in a hall situated on the corner of Anzac Pde and Wallace St – the present site of Souths Juniors. This so-called hall, incidentally, was little more than a shed and consisted of a small room for the kindies and a larger room which was divided into two classrooms for the other pupils (Mass was celebrated in the larger room on Sundays). So, on Monday morning, 18th May 1914, Sisters Mercedes Lewis, Raymund Fingleton and Margaret Harrington set out on foot for the new school, there to meet the 42 boys and girls who were to be the predecessors of the hundreds of youngsters who have since attended St Michael’s Catholic School Daceyville. This shed was later transferred to the Church-owned two-acre site, re-erected where the present Church now stands and subsequently used as an infants school. Every school day for the next eleven years, the Sisters would make this thirty or so minutes’ walk to and from the Daceyville School.
From 1919 on, after the end of World War I, the Government began to lease this Raggetty Flat Crown land to returned soldiers at a very cheap rate and to grant them loans with which to build homes. Gradually, a planned suburb of Daceyville came into being.
In 1924, when Daceyville Parish was established with Fr J. Egan as PP, the school classes were transferred to the new combined Church-School (this building had been commenced around 1920 by Fr Kirby PP, Kensington and completed by Fr Egan). Each school-day evening, the front part of the building had to be reorganised for the next morning’s Mass, and each Friday, the whole school had to be reconverted into a Church for the Sunday congregations. Quite clearly, teaching in these circumstances was very trying, so in late 1924 the OLSH Provincial Council approached the then Kensington PP, Fr E. McAuliffe, about the possibility of buying part of the Church land at Daceyville and there to build a convent. This was successfully negotiated and, until the project’s completion, the former Municipal Baby Clinic on the corner opposite the Church-School was sought as rental accommodation for the teaching sisters, saving them the long trek from Kensington. The clinic, however, was not successfully leased until late 1925 and it was January 1926 before the first community of nine sisters was in residence. By 1929 the new convent was ready and the Daceyville community moved in, more than happy to say goodbye to the clinic.
1930 – 1940
Fr C. Foley was appointed Administrator in March 1931, replacing Fr Egan who was granted leave of absence due to ill-health. Fr Foley was subsequently appointed PP in 1932.
November 1935 saw the final instalment paid on the purchase of the parcel of land ballotted to the Church some 22 years before. Also, the boundaries of the Parish were finally established following a meeting between the Archbishop’s representative and the Pastors of Maroubra, Randwick, Mt Carmel, Kensington, Mascot and Daceyville.
In March 1938, Fr Foley sought permission and was granted approval to erect a school, thus, at last, freeing the original building to fulfil its role solely as a Church. This project was financed by a bank loan of £8,500 at 4.25% with the deeds of the property held as collateral. The new school was opened the following year with the statue of St Michael the Archangel donated by His Grace the Archbishop. Apart from minor renovations this building remained unchanged until 2003. A parishioner’s generous interest-free loan of £3,000 was deposited in the bank in August 1943, thus enabling the liquidation of the overdraft and the deeds of the Church property to be recovered from the bank.
A request for the acquisition of a parcel of land opposite the convent was approved in May 1944. The land was valued at £1,630 but the Housing Board did not free it for sale until October 1945. It was duly purchased.
In Fr Foley’s absence, the Administrator Fr Delaney, in December 1949, discussed with the Hierarchy the possibility of acquiring the hall on the corner of Anzac Parade and Wallace St with a view to using it as a school (cost approximately £9,000). Investigation revealed that the proposed railway to Kingsford would necessitate the demolition of the building and so plans for its purchase were denied – lucky for Souths Juniors!
1950 – 1990
Fr A. Hills was appointed PP in 1950 and in May 1952 he sought permission to build a boys’ school. This was approved and, in October of that year, a loan of £20,000 to finance the building of the school was obtained from the bank. The Foundation Stone of St Michael’s College was blessed and laid by His Eminence Cardinal Gilroy in July 1953. The College was completed and solemnly blessed and opened by His Lordship Bishop Lyons in December 1953. Just over a year later, the building of a residence for the Marist Brothers was approved and in September 1955 the Foundation Stone for the Brothers’ residence was blessed and laid by His Eminence Cardinal Gilroy.
In March 1966, Fr Hills obtained permission to begin negotiations for the building of a War Memorial Church at Daceyville to replace the original Church which was in urgent need of repair, particularly at the Sanctuary end. This end, which was constructed of fibro and corrugated iron, was becoming quite insecure; it was later decided to demolish it and erect a brick wall in its place. Once the new Church was built, the old one would be used as a School Hall replacing the old hall which was too small and unsafe.
Fr T. O’Carroll was appointed PP in 1967 and in July of that year had a loan of $65,000 towards the construction of the new Church approved. St Michael’s War Memorial Church was opened and blessed by His Eminence Cardinal Gilroy in April 1968.
1990 – present
With the closing of the boys’ regional college in 1992, administration of St Michael’s School was transferred from the OLSH Sisters to the Marist Brothers. Closure of the boys’ college gave St Michael’s School the opportunity to use the library and a classroom on that site; the remainder was to be occupied by Catholic Education Offices. Interestingly, this year also saw the filming of a major Australian film, Muriel’s Wedding, starring Toni Collette in our Parish Church.
The St Vincent de Paul Society put a proposal to the then PP, Fr J. O’Keefe, that a hostel to house 50 residents be built on the land then being used as school playing fields. The Society was to build and run the hostel and would pay rent to the Parish for the use of the land. This proposal was accepted, approved by the Hierarchy and the first resident took occupancy in December, 1995. When Southern Cross Homes took over the running of the Hostel they did so on the condition that they buy the land also. Sale of the land was successfully negotiated by the late Fr J. Williams PP and Southern Cross Homes took control in March 1999. The Parish no longer has any pecuniary interest in the Hostel.
During 1995, Fr O’Keefe applied to build 10 self-care units for the aged on Church land fronting Gwea Ave. Fr Williams received approval in Jan. 1996, the units were completed that year and were named Foley Gardens in honour of the former PP, Fr Charles Foley. The Parish continues to exercise full control over the Units.
Plans for the redevelopment of the School and Catholic Education Offices were unveiled in 2002. A complete renovation of classrooms began: walls were demolished to create a library, and three minor extensions for a classroom, a staffroom and an administration area were undertaken. Eventually the old demountable classrooms would become a thing of the past. As the school was able to vacate the rooms on the CEO site, the Catholic Education staff were relocated to temporary quarters in Alexandria enabling the redevelopment of their offices to commence. On the 7th November, 2003, His Eminence Cardinal Pell blessed and opened the new facilites.
Fr Joe Carroll CSSR conducted a very successful 9-day family mission in the parish during September, 2003. This period proved to be a time of great spiritual renewal for all who participated.
The old hall was completely refurbished in 2003. The eastern wall was stabilised, the roof tiles replaced, air-conditioning installed, walls repainted, the floor sanded and polished and kitchen and toilet facilities reconditioned or renewed.
In May, 2004 the school celebrated its 90th birthday with an invitation to parents and friends to attend an official birthday ceremony during which students presented a short history of the school. There were addresses by the Principal, Brother John O’Brien and by the Regional Director Eastern Region Catholic Education, Mrs Vickie Tanzer. Father Jerzy Chrzczonowicz, PP then addressed the gathering and conferred a blessing on the school community. A new school song was launched the words of which were written by the 2004 students and teachers and the music was composed by Mr John Burland. Congratulations to all concerned!
November, 2004 witnessed the arrival of our new security and entertainments officer, JJ (Jerzy Junior). He has already established himself as a most welcome addition to our parish community.
A series of fund-raising activities enabled the parish community to send four of our young people to the World Youth Day held in Cologne, Germany during August, 2005.
In September, 2005 the parish was pleased to welcome Bishop Anthony Fisher for a four-day pastoral visit. This proved to be a happy and joyful occasion for the whole community.
Our sincere thanks to Archdiocesan Archives, to OLSH Sisters, to staff and students of St Michael’s School and to Mrs Marjory Murphy for their contributions towards this project.
This research is credited to Vince Hage and John Heaney.
Postscript: Fr. Jerzy Chrzczonowicz who served our Parish for nearly 17 years, has since been transferred to St. Joseph’s Parish in Como-Oyster Bay with effect from 1st February 2016. During his time here, Fr. Jerzy also sent our young adults to many WYD around the world and here in Sydney. He also promoted a very active and lively community encouraging everyone to step up to their pastoral duties. Many young ones took up his call to participate in the music ministry thus enhancing the weekend Masses with their musical talents.
After Fr. Jerzy’s departure, Fr. Kelvin Lovegrove was appointed a temporary Administrator of our parish from 1st Febraury 2016 to 17th May 2016.
The Archdiocese then appointed Fr. Moses Sejin Kim as our new Administrator and we welcomed him to our parish on 18th May 2016.
Parish Priests, Administrators and Assistants
1924-1932 Egan, J.J. PP
1932-1950 Foley, C. PP
1932-33 Mullins, J. Asst
1934-38 Neilson, W.J. Asst
1939-41 Keogh, T. Asst
1942-43 Murphy, L.S. Asst
1944-46 Martin, Frank Asst
1947-50 Delaney, W. Asst
1950-1967 Hills, A. PP
1951 Morreau, J.F. Asst
1953-54 Roberts, F.X. Asst
1961-62 Spillane, K. Asst
1962-64 Russo, G. Asst
1965-67 Crotty, T. Asst
1967-1989 O’Carroll, T.J. PP
1967-70 McCarthy, K. Asst
1971-72 Boccanfusso, B. Asst
1989 Hayne, N. Admin
1990-1995 O’Keefe, J. PP
1996-1999 Williams, J. PP
1999-2003 Chrzczonowicz, J. Admin
2004-2016 Chrzczonowicz, J. PP
2016-2016 Lovegrove, K. Admin
2016-2019 Kim, M. Admin