A brief history of St. brigid's parish, dubbo
Father Michael McGrath of Kings Plains (near Blayney) made the first recorded visit of a priest to Dubbo when he baptised Catherine, the daughter of William and Anne Smith, on the 10th October 1847 at Dubbo.
In 1854 the first attempts were made to establish a Catholic Church in Macquarie Street, between Bultje and Cobra Streets. Father P. White of Wellington began regular Mass celebrations here in 1856 until the first church was blown down in a storm. He celebrated the first recorded Catholic wedding at Dubbo between John Hubert Crowe and Mary Giles on Friday 12th September 1856.
The parish of St. Brigid’s, Dubbo was officially established in 1865 with Fr. McAuliffe as Parish Priest. He used the “old chaff shed” in Brisbane St. (opposite the Commercial Hotel) as his “church” after the first one had blown down. Dr. John Brophy PP DD BA LLB built the two storey presbytery which was opened in November 1901. It was the fifth priest’s residence in the town since 1865. The newer presbytery beside it was built in 1986.
The original St. Brigid’s sandstone church was designed by Mr Edward Gell, a leading architect in the colony, who had been a pupil to the famous Pugin in Europe. The sandstone walls, locally quarried on the west bank of the Macquarie River, were 12 feet above ground level in
May 1870. Bishop Matthew Quinn of Bathurst Diocese solemnly opened and blessed the church on 8th March 1874. The “old” St. Brigid’s Church served the needs of the parish until increasing numbers of parishioners necessitated the building of a new church in Dubbo.
The new St Brigid’s was designed over a three year period with a lot of parishioner input. It was opened on the 1st July 1990 with a seating capacity of 900. It was built with the donations of many parishioners before and since 1990. Transferred from the old church were the sacred vessels, processional cross, priest’s chair and the hand carved wooden crucifix on the wall of the Blessed Sacrament chapel. St Brigid’s provides a peaceful setting for personal prayer and for liturgical celebrations of the Eucharist each day of the week, for baptisms, weddings and funerals, as well as school liturgies, civic ceremonies and ecumenical celebrations on various occasions.
In May 1870 St. Aloysius’ School opened in Carrington Avenue (now the Dubbo City Council Administration building) as the first Catholic School in Dubbo. It served as a church on weekends until the end of 1873 when the new sandstone church opened for worship. Six Sisters of Mercy arrived from Bathurst and Ireland on 9th July 1880 to open Our Lady’s Girls College for boarders and day pupils and St. John’s Primary School. Two Patrician Brothers arrived in 1889 to take over the St. Aloysius boy’s school in Carrington Avenue. They left in 1892. In 1927 the De La Salle Brothers arrived to take over the boy’s school. They left the parish in 1974. The Sisters of Mercy College and the De La Salle Brothers College were combined and reorganised in 1969 as St. John’s Primary School in Bultje Street and St. John’s College in George Street. As Religious have moved into different ministries, lay teachers assumed the administration and teaching roles in Catholic schools. In 1986, St. John’s College re-located to Sheraton Road and by 2010 had reached its capacity of 1000 students. In 2006 St John’s Primary School was relocated to the Sheraton Road site. It was expanded from a years 3-6 school to a full K-6 school in 2007. In that year the process of transforming St Laurence’s Infants School into a full single stream K-6 school began, the first year 6 class graduating in 2010.
Holy Name of Jesus Church, Geurie was blessed and opened on 15th January 1906.
St. Mary’s Church, North Dubbo, opened in 1910 on the corner of Macleay and Bourke Streets, North Dubbo was a separate Parish between 1953 and 1986. The church was closed in 1987 and the Mass centre transferred to Lourdes Hospital Chapel. The original church was used as a school during weekdays. It was staffed by the Sisters of Mercy. In 1961, new school buildings were built further north in Bourke Street and staffed from 1969 to 1974 by the Daughters of Charity. St. Mary’s School re-located to the Wheelers Lane/Myall Street site in 1983 and expanded to a full K-6 two stream primary school in 2004.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Ballimore was built in 1952 and was part of North Dubbo Parish until 1986, when it became part of St Brigid’s parish.
St. Laurence’s Church/School, South Dubbo, opened in 1953. The school was staffed by the Sisters of Mercy. The Parish of St Laurence’s was created in 1964 and a new church built in 1971. The Parish closed in 2008.
St. Pius X School in West Dubbo was built in 1974 and staffed by the Sisters of Mercy. The school was used as a Sunday Mass centre until 1990. The library was converted into a chapel in 1989 and is used by the school and as a Saturday Mass centre.
The Catholic Church’s commitment to the sick and frail aged is clearly evident in its provision of high quality hospitals and aged care facilities: Lourdes Hospital, St Mary’s Villa (formerly Ozanam Villa) and Holy Spirit Aged Care Facility.
St Brigid's Catholic Church under construction circa 1873. PHOTO: MACQUARIE REGIONAL LIBRARY