The first recorded history of the area dates back to 1792. Driven by a storm, the French ships – La Recherge (Search) and L’Esperance (Hope) sought refuge in the lee of what is now Observatory Island, approximately 1 km from the mainland. The founder of Esperance, Andrew Dempster, in company with his brother William and others, set out from Northam in search of more grazing land. They were granted land in Esperance by the Government in December 1863.
The date of the first visit of a Catholic priest to Esperance is unknown, but it is recorded that the Mass was offered in Esperance by the French priest attached to the expedition commanded by Bruny D’Entrecasteaux, Fr Louis Ventenat, naturalist and chaplain on the “La Recherche” and Fr Pierson, astronomer and chaplain of the L’Esperance, in December 1792. In 1929, Fr Langmead (a military chaplain) was appointed as the first resident priest of Esperance who was followed by Fr Charles Cunningham 1923-1933. The parish then extended from Esperance northwards to Widgiemooltha and from Hopetoun eastwards to Eucla. In 1933 Esperance was attached to the parish of Kalgoorlie and remained there until 1936 when Norseman was established as a parish with Fr Stinson as Parish Priest. The boundaries of Norseman Parish went as far as Esperance. Fr Stinson was succeeded by Fr Michael Bryrne in 1958 who built the first Catholic Church in Esperance.
The church was opened in 1960. 22 November 1960 – a great date to remember – saw the appointment by Bishop Lancelot Goody of a resident priest, Fr William Kevin Glover, served as Parish Priest, for sixteen years. On the 9 May 1979, the very first meeting was organized to make plans for the building of the new church, convent, presbytery and parish centre. Fr Pat Rooney was then the Parish Priest. Together with a church building steering committee, the parish built a beautiful church. The opening and blessing of the church took place in April 1982.
In 1980 Bishop McKeon advised that the Salvatorian Fathers would be working in the parish and sent Fr Kazimierz Stuglik who became the first Polish Salvatorian to be Assistant Priest to Fr Pat Rooney. At Christmas 1981 Fr Kazimierz was joined by the next Salvatorian Priest Fr Joe Caldwell. Salvatorian Fathers took over the parish with the appointment of Fr Aloysius McDonagh as the new Parish Priest in 1982 who was succeeded by the following Parish Priests: Fr Kazimierz Stuglik (1988-90), Fr Jan Liska (1990-93) Fr Janusz Mazurek (1993-97) and now Fr Stanislaw Bendowski. It is necessary to mention the great involvement of the Sisters of Mercy in the early stages of the parish and later the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, especially the Motor Mission Sisters.
A whole new area began in 1993 with the opening of the parish Catholic primary school, under the Principalship of Anne Nolan, who joined two Salvatorian Priests and two Josephite Sisters, Sr Mary Englebrecht and Sr Kathleen Leane. In the parish, the school is integral. So much of the parish population is invested in the school and the parish has unfolded to embrace the school population.
There are Mass Centres in Grass Patch, Salmon Gums, Cascades, Munglinup, Dalyup, Condingup and Esperance.
Our Lady Star of the Star
The designer of the patch was Kathy Gamble from Gibson and it was selected from several submissions. It was considered that her design captured the spirit and landscape of Esperance well.
The patch is self explanatory with the sea, dolphins and pine trees of Esperance, but the principal message of the patch is the church over the town with the cross as the focus.