In 1843, Father John Brady was appointed Vicar General of the State of Western Australia by the Archbishop of Sydney. He was appointed Bishop of WA in 1852-53, later resigning his See and died at Amelieles-Baines in France on 2nd December 1871.
On 4 November 1843, Fr Brady, together with Rev. Fr Joostens and a Catechist, Patrick O’Reilly, celebrated three Masses at Mass Rock (also known as Balancing Rocks) on the property of Mr C. Mills on the north eastern bank of Princess Royal Harbour. This is the spot that visiting French priests had earlier celebrated Mass in January 1838 (Fathers Pierson and Ventenat) when the French scientific expedition on which they were Chaplain-scientists put into Albany. Catholic worship appeared to begin in Albany in 1835 with the arrival of Lawrence Mooney, an ex soldier, who later became a police officer. He used to climb to the top of Mount Clarence every Sunday to recite the Rosary and pray for a priest to visit Albany.
In 1845 a band of Missionaries from the Congregation of the Holy Heart of Mary, (who later amalgamated with the Holy Spirit Order), were sent into the countryside in the Kojonup area to found a Mission and convert the natives. Two priests, Fr Thevaux and Fr Thierse together with Brothers Vincent and Theodores had a terrible time, suffered great privations, and abandoned their Mission “Sancta Maria” near lake Mollyalup and returned to Albany in 1847 and then on to Mauitius from where they had come.
A meeting was held on 20 November 1853 to discuss the design and building of the first Roman Catholic Chapel in Albany. Bishop Serra, who had been appointed to Perth after Bishop Brady left, was in the Chair. The building of a small church was begun on land donated by Francis Legaree, who later married Elizabeth Mooney on 4 December 1853. It was situated facing south along Norfolk Street (now a section of Serpentine Road). However, the building was substandard and the weather inclement. It was meant to be known as the Chapel of Stella Maris (Our Lady of the Sea), but the 5 November 1855 report on the building to the Bishop stated that it was unfinished and would not last the winter. It was never consecrated and subsequently fell down. It is presumed that the small foundation stone was utilized in the second chapel of Stella Maris. Canon Martello, a Spanish Benedictine spent some time in Albany in 1854 ministering to the people of the area.
In 1855, the Surveyor General of WA John Septimus Roe, advised the Resident Magistrate that Albany Lot 24 had received approval from the State Governor, Charles Fitzgerald (1848-1855) to be granted to the Roman Catholic Trustees for a chapel and school, with adjoining Lot 33 being for Ministers’ dwelling and a glebe.Albany was served by another Spanish Benedictine, Father Garrido for some months in 1857. An official census of the Catholic population in the district, which included Albany, Kojonup and Bannister, including Irish convicts, was carried out in 1858. There were 152 members of the Faith recorded. In 1859 Father Martin Griver OSB,Vicar General of WA, visited Albany and supervised the beginning of the first consecrated Roman Catholic Church in Albany. This was the Chapel fo Stella Maris (Star of the Sea) which faced east in Aberdeen Street. The location was between the spot where the two storey stone school building was later built and the street. In later years it served as a school and a house, being demolished in 1917. It is noted that Father Griver was consecrated Bishop of WA upon the death of Bishop Brady in 1871. In 1860 Fr Emilian Coll OSB arrived in Albany and was very welcome as he was a qualified physician and pharmacist. The eleven metre by eight meter church was officially opened in February 1861. Fr Coll ran a boys’ school and built a house in which to live and stayed in Albany until 1864. He was remembered for his self sacrifice to people of all faiths for spiritual and physical welfare. The area then went through a period when for some years the only visit of a priest was by horseback or by visiting schooner.
The first official appointment of a Parish Priest for the District of Albany and Kohenup (note official spelling) was in 1871 when Bishop Griver appointed Father Bernard Delaney to the position. Fr Delaney was instrumental in constracting Sr Emilie de Vialar, in Marseilles, France requesting a group of Sisters to form a school in Albany. Sr Emilie was the Foundress of the Order of Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition. Fr Delaney then went on to raise funds and plan the original section of St Joseph’s Church in 1876 before being transferred to the Parish of Geraldton. The year 1877 saw the arrival of Rev Fr F. Mateu and the laying of the foundation of St Joseph’s Church by Bishop Griver who visited Albany to consecrate the church on 16 January 1878.
In that same year, Mother Teresa, with two other Sisters and a lay teacher, Miss Nicolay, arrived to open their school. They were too early as the buildings were not completed and for some time lived in a house in Serpentine Road, west of York St. The school was ready later in 1878, but the Convent building (central section) was not completed until 1881 when the Sisters and Boarders moved in on 27th June. Mother Teresa had returned to Fremantle and was replaced by Sr Julia Cabagniol, Sr Josephine Smith and Sr Mary Donnelly. Miss Nicolay stayed in Albany and Sr Mary was replaced by Sr Margaret Ralston after being hit in the head by a cricket ball. In 1833 the church bell was given to Sr Marcelline for her help in nursing French sailors during a typhoid epidemic. This bell was the largest in the Colony of WA when it arrived. It is embossed with images of Our Lady, St Joseph, St Louis IX of France and the Sacred Heart. The official title of the Parish from 1880-1901 was Albany, King George’s Sound, and Father Mateau was still the Parish Priest.
In 1902 the official title again changed to Albany – St Joseph’s and Two stations. At this time Fr Mateau was elevated to the rank of Right Rev. Monsignor. He stayed till 1904 serving the people of the area for 27 years. He died in September 1910. It is also an historical fact that Fr Mateau brought the Christian Brothers to Albany to open a boys’ school. On 22 September 1898, Br Ambrose Treacey, the Australian Provincial arrived to meet Brothers Hugh Hurley, Patrick Joyce and Athansius McCarthy who had arrived by ship from Ireland. It was decided Br David Quigley, Br Bruno Carroll and Br Patrick Joyce would stay in Albany and the school which was in Serpentine Road (part of which is still standing today) was opened in 1899. However, owing to Fremantle gaining popularity over Albany as the premier port of WA and the boom of Kalgoorlie the school closed in 1903 and the Brothers went to Kalgoorlie. Fr M. Reidy arrived in 1904 to work with Monsignor Mateau, who left town later that year. The new priest stayed for 3 years and in 1907 was succeeded by Fr Jeremiah Reidy.
Fr J Reidy was Parish Priest during the period of recession in Albany which lasted until about 1910. The year 1911 saw the arrival of yet another new Parish Priest. This was Fr Briody and during his term, the title of the parish was changed yet again to St Joseph’s Esperance and Stations. Fr Briody organized a Church Committee (the fore runner of the present day Parish Councils) on 2 February 1911. Immediate projects that were dealt with included furnishing the Presbytery built by Fr Mateau and the installation of gas. On 12 September 1914 Fr Briody and the Church Committee organized the Blessing and opening of the new wing of the Convent by the first Archbishop of Perth, His Grace Archbishop Clune DD, CSsR.
For 2 years 1916-1917 Fr Briody served as a Military Chaplain being replaced short term by Rev. Fr Phillip Sherridan. It was in the latter part of 1917 that Fr Briody returned and he stayed as Parish Priest till 1919. During 1917, the consecrated chapel of Stella Maris was demolished, as was the row of cottages belonging to the church and built through the efforts of Mother Julia Cabagniol for the less fortunate member of the Albany community at large. It must be remembered that during her term, there was no Government relief for invalids, unmarried mothers, orphans or the unemployed. These cottages stood where the Christian Brothers College was built in 1955, roughly where the original units of St Joseph’s Lodge now stand. It is rather ironic that Mother Julia Cabagniol had dwellings built on that plot of land well over 100 years ago to look after those who were in need. During Fr Sherridan’s term, the official title of the Parish was again changed to Albany – Mt Barker – and Stations.
The next Parish Priest who came to Albany was Rev. Fr Thomas Gilroy. He had arrived in WA from Ireland in 1903 and served in three other country parishes before being appointed to Albany in late 1919. His first project was to build two more bedrooms into the presbytery, enclose it with a verandah, install a telephone and have the premises connected to the water and electricity supplies. From this it can be seen that our earlier priests lived in a somewhat spartan lifestyle. Fr Gilroy was the first priest in Albany to use a motor vehicle to visit the outer Mass centres of the parish which was made up of Mt Barker, Denmark, Nornalup, Walpole, Tenterden, Cranbrook, Kendernup, Frankland River, Torbay and Elleker. This meant that the town of Albany and 10 other centres were all covered by 1 priest. There are some parishes such as Lake Grace which have a sim8lar situation in the present day. Fr Gilroy’s hospitality ensured that in the holiday periods there was a never ending stream of priests from other areas visiting. In 1937, Fr Gilroy was appointed Vicar Forane, also known as the dean for the Region. After 35 years of service in WA, Dean Gilroy returned to his native Ireland and in his absence was relieved by
Rev. Fr RL Pace as locum.
The next significant occasion in the parish was the visit of His Grace Archbishop Dr Redmond Prendiville, DD, second Archbishop of Perth, to bless and declare open the porch additions to St Joseph’s Church which had been built at a cost of 3,000 pounds. During 1945 Dean Gilroy opened 2 classrooms built on a tee piece to the Parish hall. This meant that the four classes, Years 4 to 7 which had been previously taught in the hall divided by wooden screens, now had proper rooms of their own. During 1946 Fr William Costello was appointed to Albany as the Assistant Priest to Dean Gilroy. He is remembered by quite a few as doing parish visitations on a bicycle. Whilst on leave in Ireland in 1949 Dean Gilroy suffered a heart attack and passed away on 21 April at Belturbet. Memorial Masses were celebrated in St Joseph’s, including one for the school children alone. By this time, another young priest Fr Walsh (his sister, Sr Alphonus, taught Years 4/5 at the Convent school) arrived in Albany and looked after the Parish with Father Costello. In 1950 Fr Costello was transferred to Katanning and Fr Frederick Byrne was appointed Parish Priest of Albany and Vicar Forane for the Region. In 1951 he was made a Privy Chamberlain to His Holiness Pope Pius XII with the title of Monsignor.
In 1954, the new Diocese of Bunbury was created from territory cut off from the Archdiocese of Perth. Albany was now the second largest centre in the new Diocese. The first Bishop of Bunbury was His Lordship Dr Lancelot J. Goody and Monsignor Frederick Byrne was appointed the first Vicar General of the Diocese. During 1955 a suburban church was opened in the new area of Mt Lockyer. This small timber and fibro church was constructed to serve the large number of new workers who came to Albany for such industries as the whaling, superphosphate works, abattoirs and wool stores. The church stood on the area where the Albany Aboriginal centre and Paddy Coyne Housing Complex now stands. It was during this time that a new presbytery was built on the south side of St Joseph’s Church on the corner of Aberdeen Street and Serpentine Road. This was needed as the Christian Brothers had taken over the original presbytery as a residence. The new building, was blessed and opened by Bishop Rafferty, who at that time was Auxiliary Bishop of Perth. Bishop Goody for some reason was not available at the time.
On 5 February 1956 the Christian Brothers’ College of St Pius X was blessed and opened by Bishop Goody of Bunbury. Brother O’Driscoll was the inaugural Principal having come from Highgate. At this point in time there were two Assistant Priests, Fathers John Walsh and John Joe McGrath. Monsignor Byrne, who was looking after the congregation at Mt Barker whilst their Parish Priest was away, ahd a heart attack whilst saying Mass and died in the local hospital on 1 September 1957. It was on that same date that the Albany Parish’s first Planned Giving Program, which had been worked on by Monsignor Byrne, was launched. As Mons. Byrne had studied at Propaganda Fidei College in Rome, there were a number of visiting dignitaries for his obsequies, including a number of Bishops. Noel Leslie Inglis, our current organist, well remembers the front pews of the church turned round like choir stalls and the number of Monsignors and Bishops who were in attendance – more than had ever been seen in the church before or since. Mons. Byrne was buried in Albany’s new cemetery, Allambie Park, the first priest to be buried there. Fr James Petry, an ex chaplain for the British SAS in Malaya, was appointed Administrator in the interim. He was assisted by two priests who were in Albany for a short time – Fr McDonald, a gentle Scot, previously suffered horrendous privations at the hands of the Red Chinese, people he had lovingly laboured with and for, for many years. The other priest from Central Europe, possibly Polish or Czech, was Fr Mikula, who always went everywhere with a camera. During this time, Albany had a visit from the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Romolo Carboni, who later was elevated to the College of Cardinals. On 3 March 1958 Mons. Charles Cunningham was appointed to the Albany parish. He was also Vicar General for the Diocese. He came from Dardanup where he was responsible for building a church and a school, still monuments to his labours to this very day. Monsignor Cunningham was responsible for the addition of two new brick classrooms at the Convent Primary School, built at right angles and adjoining the original stone building of 1878, built 90 years previously.
On 10 March 1960 Fathers Noel FitzSimons and Bernie Dwyer were listed as being the Assistant Priests of the Parish. A big occasion for the Parish occurred on 30 November 1961 when it was 100 years since Albany had been a centre with continuity of priests. Amongst the clergy attending and taking part in the various services were: Archbishop R. Prendiville DD, BA of Perth, Bishop Dr L.J. Goody DD, PHD of Bunbury, Bishop A.J. Gummer of Geraldton DD, the Lord Abbott of the Abbey Nullius of New Norcia, Dr D.G. Gregory Gomez, Monsignor Giles, Monsignor Cameron and Monsignor James McMahon, who came from South Perth. Monsignor Cunningham was well known for his ecumenical ideals and participation in the Albany Ministers Fraternal, his military service as a Chaplain on the Kokoda Trail in New Guinea in World War 11, his other interests being astronomy and as an apiarist, even to making his own candles. He was awarded the honour of the MBC (Member of the British Empire). In the mid 1960’s Fathers Bernie Morellini and Kevin Johnston were the Assistant Priests, both formerly from Bunbury Cathedral Parish.Another regular visitor to Albany was Father Martin Newbold, who had been Parish Priest of Denmark, later at Kojonup and finished up as Archdiocesan Archivist/Historian at the Cathedral in Perth. He was a keen historian, helping to found the Albany Historical Society and was very involved in that type of activity. Unfortunately, he suffered ill health and died as a result of heart trouble. Another visitor for Retreats and other occasions was Fr B Adderley, a wonderful preacher who also possessed a mellifluous voice for a sung Mass, especially in Latin. He is also now deceased. The sanctuary of St Joseph’s was changed in 1970 with the exquisite wooden high altar built by Paul Bauditz being given to a Catholic history group in Perth. The new altar was of granite, in a freww standing situation to allow the priest to face the congregation, as decreed by Vatican II.
In December 1972 Monsignor Cunningham was transferred to the Parish of Brunswick Junction, a quieter parish with less arduous duties. A Civic Farewell was given in the upper level of the Albany Town Hall (pre conversion to a theatre) and a large percentage of the Albany people attended. Many had come to know and love “Mons” during his 14 years in Albany and came to see him off, in style.
Rev. Fr Edward Kenny was appointed Parish Priest and Vicar General in 1973. Assistant Priests at the time were Fathers Terrence Flanagan and Michael Naisbitt. The 130th Anniversary of the first Mass at the Balancing Rocks occurred about this time. Chief Celebrant was Fr M. Philbin, with Frs J. Walsh, W. Costello, P. Cryan, McSweeney and M. Naisbitt concelebrating. Fr T. Flanagan addressed the crowd gathered for this occasion.Bishop Myles McKeown, second Bishop of the Diocese of Bunbury officiated at the opening of the new St. Joseph’s Primary School in Spencer Park on 2 May 1976. The old buildings in Aberdeen Street then became vacant. Some were used by a community school and also by a new private school – Bethel Christian School.
Another change in the education system of the Parish occurred in 1977 when Ave Maria Ladies College and St Pius X College for boys amalgamated; the boys going to the Ave Maria buildings and the CBC College ultimately becoming Aged Persons Units. In 1978 the centenary of the arrival of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition was celebrated. A Mass was held in St Joseph’s Church with a reception at the Centennial Oval Hall. On the Sunday a Mass with music supplied by the St Joseph’s College students under the direction of Sr Colette was held at the Albany Youth Centre. As the Bishop was absent on The Ad Limina visit to Rome, Abbot Rooney of New Norcia presided as Principal Celebrant.
During 1980 Fr Kenny suffered ill health and was transferred to the Parish of Katanning where Albany visitors knew they were always welcome. His place was taken in the short term by Fr Kevin glover (deceased 1999) and eventually Fr Stephen Kelly was appointed Parish Priest with Fr Tony Chiera as Assistant Priest. During Fr Kelly’s term, the idea of building a new church was aired. Options were discussed to demolish St. Joseph’s and to build a new church on the site by extending St. Joseph’s. this would involve demolishing the priest’s residence or building a new church in another area. Initially, the view of demolishing St Joseph’s and rebuilding on the same site was the predominant view. But owing to health problems Fr Kelly was also transferred to a parish with less arduous duties. He was replaced by Fr Noel FitzSimons from Katanning, who was made Vicar General in June 1985. By December 1985 the Parish had a new Assistant Priest, Fr Michael Slattery, a late vocation, who had been a school teacher. Fr Michael did a great job with Parish worship with regards to music, being an adept performer of a few instruments. By this time, the idea of demolishing St. Joseph’s Church had changed, and it was decided that a new church would be constructed between St. Joseph’s College and the Albany Regional Hospital in Spencer Park, to be known as Holy Family Church, and the Parish would assume that name also. By 1989, the Parish had a new Assistant Priest, Fr Hugh Galloway, who was ordained in Albany in 1969. He had previously been Parish Priest of Lake Grace, Mt Barker and Ongerup-Bremer Bay, as well as serving in many other larger centres as Assistant or Relieving Priest.
On 1 August 1989, the Most Rev. Bishop Peter Quinn DD, DCL, third Bishop of Bunbury, blessed the Foundation Stone for the new Holy Family Church in Martin Rd, Spencer Park on a rather rainy day. The official consecration and first Mass in the new church took place on Saturday 23 June 1990 with Bishop Quinn Celebrant. Fr Noel FitzSimons finished his term as Parish Priest in December 1991 and Fr Hugh Galloway was appointed in his place. At the time of the compilation of these notes Fr Hugh Galloway is still the Parish Priest. January 1992 saw a new Assistant Priest, Fr Michael Evans SMA, who had worked for many years in Nigeria as a teacher and principal at a large high school. He had also spent some years in Rome for his Order, commonly known as the “African Mission Fathers”.After the departure of Fr Michael Evans, in January 1998 Fr Wally Kevis arrived to take up his appointment in Albany as Assistant Priest and on 1 July 1999 was appointed Parish Priest of Mt Barker Fr Bernard Banu from the Philippines was Albany’s Assistant Priest.
Over the years other Priests have served often on relief: Fr Russell Hardiman, Pat Rooney, Ian Johnson, Doug Conlan, Greg Chidlow, Neville Faulkner, Tom McGree, Phillip Watkins SSS, Steve Hawe and Fr Dondonayo from the Philippines.
The Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition no longer teach in the College, but there are four Sisters in their new Convent in Spencer Park and heavily involved in Pastoral duties throughout the Parish. The Christian Brothers finally left Albany in 1997 but return to Albany for annual Christmas vacations.
Holy Family Parish
Our design features “Mass Rock” – the place where the first Eucharist was celebrated on 4 November 1843 for the early settlers who prayed and hungered to share in the ‘breaking of bread’, and whose Faith appeared just as solid.
This spot on which “Mass Rock” lies, not only reminds us of the early settlement in Western Australia – it reminds us of Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel, “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.” That gift of ‘rock’ given to Peter was given to us all through the waters of Baptism. Christ asks each and every one of us to be Church to every living being.
Surrounding and embracing “Mass Rock” is another of God’s gifts, the gift of creation – the land, the sea and the sky, and the beauty it contains. These gifts of Faith and creation are all powerful and life giving to be shared with others in the ‘breaking of the bread’ and in the caring and sharing of our environment for future generations.
The ‘Rock’ represents each one of us and our Faith. How solid is it? Are we Church to all people? This is God’s challenge to us. This is our ‘jubilee’ challenge.
Patch designed by Regina Barnett.
Description by Regina Barnett and Christine Palfrey.
Design sewed by Beverley Macri.- Painting by Regina Barne