Originally surveyed by Major Harvey who gave his name to the town and the river. Irrigation from the Wellington Weir allows dairying, cattle and fruit growing. A large abattoir in the town services domestic and export needs. There are many families of Italian origin in the district, and on the outskirts of the town is a shrine to the Italians who were interned there during the World War II. The fine church is dedicated to Our Lady. The school, until recently staffed by the Sisters of Mercy, is now run by lay teachers.
In 2000 the Harvey parishioners celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the new church as well as the 84th anniversary of the first Mass offered in the parish, which was celebrated in the Roads Board Hall by Fr John Fahey (later to be awarded the DSO) in 1913. He was then the resident Priest in Pinjarra also serving Harvey, Jarradale, Waroona, Yarloop and Mornington. From 1914 onwards, until the church was built and the parish formally established in its own right, Mass was celebrated regularly by a number of visiting and locally based priests.From 1914 to 1917 Father McCabe traveled from Yarloop by horse and sulky. Between 1917 and 1918 Father Doddy cared for the area, traveling by motor bike. For the five years between 1918 and 1932 Father O’Grady, at Dardanup, gradually increased the number of Masses said in Harvey.However, with the arrival of Father Lynch in 1932, the longed for church was built and placed under the patronage of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.
Father Lenihan served Harvey from Pinjarra from 1933 to 1935 and it was then that the Sisters of Mercy agreed to open a school. In November 1934 a building which was to be their “temporary” Convent was transported on jinkers from Bunbury. It was the Sisters who established St. Anne’ s school in 1935. In that year Harvey became a separate parish, with Fr Frank Ryan as the first resident priest. His parish consisted of Harvey, Waroona, Yarloop, Mornington mill, Hoffman Mill, Stirling Dam and Treesville. Some time in 1939 and up until 1947, Father Edward power was appointed the Parish Priest. During his time he organized the building of the church in Waroona. He was also Chaplain to the Civil Internee Camp in Harvey and celebrated Mass there. His successors were Fathers Clery and McSweeney. The post war years saw increasing numbers of immigrants, many from Italy, arrive in the area. In 1955 the Franciscan Capuchin Fathers arrived in Harvey with Father Philip Magni serving as Parish Priest until 1964. Father Edward (Ned) Kenny was next on the scene, appointed Parish Priest from 1964 to 1966. In 1965 a large picture of Our Lady of the Immigrants was brought to Harvey by His Lordship Bishop Goody. It was a gift from the Franciscan Capuchin Fathers in Milan to the Franciscan Capuchins in Harvey and through them to all immigrants in Australia. It was meant to be hung in a large church or Sanctuary, which would become the focal point for pilgrims from all over Australia. It was a wonderful idea, but the financial position of the parish precluded any such project. Father Luigi Mammi, one of the Capuchins, conducted a series of Missions around Australia to raise the money, visiting any of the churches wherever groups of Italians could be found. But on his return there was still not sufficient money to build a new church, so for sometime the project fell into abeyance.
In 1966 and 1967 Father Gaetano Crocetti served as Parish Priest while Father Kenny went to Ireland for a well earned holiday. Father encouraged groups to engage in fund raising for the church and fund raise they did – using every means available.
On his return Fr Kenny began the massive building program which would culminate in the finished perfection of a new church under the patronage of Our Lady of the Immigrants, which was blessed and opened in 1972. This feat would have been practically impossible were it not for the concerted efforts of the fund raisers, the bricklayers and all the labourers. Over and above all there was the continuous and seemingly tireless work of the “Labour of Labourers” Father Kenny.
Today, Our Lady of the Immigrants Church has a two fold purpose – as the parish church and as a shrine for all immigrants. The Catholic population ahs grown to 350 families. In 1980 Father Crocetti returned to Harvey as Parish Priest and ministered here until 1991. During this time he initiated and brought to completion several valuable assets to the parish which included both the church and the school. The building program, which was an integral part of his vision for the parish, began with a new presbytery which was completed in 1983. A toilet block, situated between the church and the school followed. By 1985 a new hall had been built, blessed and opened. The alst two facilities were to be used by both church and school. Mercy Hall, named as a tribute to the Sisters of Mercy who pioneered Catholic education in Harvey, is ranked very highly as regards usefulness, availability of space and appropriate position. It was, and still is a most convenience facility and one of the best in its class. Careful planning and supervision ensured that it would last on into the future and be suited to change, additions and improvements.
Together with Father’s extensive pastoral activities among his widely scattered parishioners, these buildings remain as constant reminders of his concern and care for his parishioners, both in the material and spiritual aspects of their lives.Besides the priests already mentioned, Fathers J. McGrath, Brian Morrison, Adrian Van Klooster, Noel Fitzimons, Neville Faulkner and Jim Mullins have all served the community. Our parish has also been blessed by the presence of the Sisters of Mercy. From 1935-1986 they were not only actively engaged as classroom teachers and principals but visited the elderly, the sick, those in any need and those in hospital or in the retirement home. With the blessing and opening of the Kindergarten Centre St. Anne’s Primary School nurtures children from Kindergarten to Year 7. A Festa day in honour of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception has been celebrated each year since 1954. Many visitors come from Perth and surrounding South West districts to enjoy the day. It is held annually on the second Sunday of December. In 1991 a second Festa day was inaugurated in honour of Our Lady of the Immigrants and has become very popular, held on the second Sunday of October each year.
On 7 December 2000 was the Silver Jubilee of our new church, which at that time under the leadership and guidance of Father Ignatius Thambuswamy CSsR, a Redemptorist from Sri Lanka.
This section of the large banner mural represents the rural aspects of the Harvey community – from our citrus trees and flourishing grape growing regions which are sustained by the Harvey Weir and irrigation channels, to the dairy industry which nourishes and sustains our growth.
We are in close proximity to pristine beaches where fishing is a favourite pastime.
The high point of the Harvey Catholic Church and its faith community is illustrated at the top of the mural.
Artist was Mrs Anita Commisso, Harvey.