The first church in what was to become the Pinjarra Parish was built in Jarrahdale around 1885. The area of the Parish extended from Queens Park in Perth to probably Harvey, inland to Boddington and the main mill settlements and sometimes to Mandurah and Rockingham.
The earliest Catholic family recorded in what is now the Pinjarra Parish and Pinjarra town was Mr George Greenacre, in whose “best” room Mass was said. The first church building in Pinjarra was built by Fr. Fahey in 1912. Fr. Fahey DSO served with distinction at Gallipoli and was later the first President of the RSL in WA. At that time his parish had 22 Mass Stations. St. Matthew’s Church in Dwellingup was erected in 1915 and the year 1919 saw the first ‘motorised’ priest, Father O’Grady administering the parish from nearby Dwellingup until 1925. The parish then extended from Jarrahdale to Coolup but as the “great” depression hit, Jarrahdale school and presbytery were relocated to Pinjarra.
About 1929 the Sisters of St. Joseph came to Pinjarra from Jarrahdale. Today, Sr. Florentine one of the original Sisers is still living in South Perth. During these early years the Sisters cared for an elderly lady, Mrs Perrett and they in turn provided good education, bushie schools (from 1936-1967) with boarding facilities at minimum cost to scattered parishioners. Further generosity by Mrs Perrett enabled the Sisters to buy the present convent and land on which the school is built. The new school building was opened by Archbishop Prendiville in 1954. In 1954 the building of a church in Mandurah, Our Lady of the Assumption, was commenced and opened by Archbishop Goody on 6th January 1953. Mandurah became a separate parish in 1954. Fr. Harry Brennan became Parish Priest in 1958. In 1961 the Dwellingup fires destroyed St. Matthew’s Church which was later rebuilt with generous help given by the Methodist and Baptist congregations.
The 1960’s and 1970’s gave a boost to Pinjarra; the school was enlarged and the parish transferred to the Bunbury Diocese. Priests who served in Pinjarra from 1960 were: Fr McNamara, Fr Monahan, Fr Diviney & Fr Gaine. On 5th April 1981 the present church was blessed and opened by Bishop Myles McKeon and the Presbytery was blessed and opened on 1st September 1985 by Bishop Peter Quinn. Fr. Johjn Fitzgerald was the Parish Priest during the building of the new Church and Presbytery. Fr. S Kelly followed in 1987 then Fr M.T. Dondoyano, Fr E. O’Shea, Fr Doug Conlan and Fr Christudas. In December 1998 an era came to an end as the parish farewelled the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart after 68 years of committed and dedicated love and service to the school which is now under the leadership of a lay Principal.
The parish, however, is served by Sr. Maureen O’Connor, RSJ who was appointed as Parish Administrator in May 1996. She is kept busy travelling the length and breadth of the parish as she ministers to parishioners. Mass is celebrated each Sunday by one of the two Mandurah priests. The parish community was very transient but the 1990’s have seen the community settled, the boundaries of the parish stabilised, the school upgraded and enlarged once again and relations with other denominations very good. Today the parish has many active groups within it.
Shades of Green – These represent the forests and pastures throughout the three areas.
The Colour of Silver – This represents the river that flows through the three towns. It is seen as the ‘water of life’ because of the abundance of agriculture throughout the three districts. The colour of Silver also represents Alumina which is an important natural resource of the area.
The Gold of the cross – This depicts the faith of the three Parishes. Gold is also representative of Gold Mining and the ripening harvests of the varied agricultural industries. Lastingly, the Gold Cross is representative of the fact that we live under the protection of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Denise Hardie (Boddington)
Denise Wild (Dwellingup)
Denise Wood (Pinjarra)