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Under the care of the Jesuits
You are here: Home About Us Churches History St Ignatius' Church A Church on the Hill - 1895 - 1927
A Church on the Hill - 1895 - 1927 PDF Print E-mail
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A Church on the Hill
1853 - 1866
1867 - 1894
1895 - 1927
1928 - Present
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The passing of St James' Church

The history of St Ignatius' Church and parish of Richmond would be incomplete, were no further reference made to the old St James' Church, which Fr Dalton took charge of when he first came to Richmond in 1866. The old church had quite an important part in the history of St James' Church.

Schools and More Schools

The population of Richmond continued to grow - factories built along the river provided employment as Victoria moved out of depression. Subdivisions of little cottages took over the flat land, while on the hill grand houses gave way for the growing need for schools.

The first boys' school on the hill, a converted house, became crowded - the infants' school built with the bricks from the first St James' Church had to make way for the completed church of St Ignatius'. The St James' school served the local area with the assistance of a community of the Sisters of St Joseph. The sisters also ran the school in South Richmond, St Stanislaus', named for one of the Jesuit patrons of youth. The other Jesuit patron of youth, St Aloysius, lent his name or a variation of it for the church-school of St Louis in Burnley.

Father Joseph Hearn Arrives

Fr Joseph Hearn - Parish Priest 1896-1914.  Photographer: Unknown.In 1896, Fr Joseph Hearn was appointed as Parish Priest and held the position for 18 years from 1896 to 1914.

In 1911, under the dynamic leadership of Fr Joseph Hearn SJ, the parish embarked on another huge building project. The first wing of a new school, designed by a Mr Vanheems was commenced. The second wing was then built and finally the hall which connects them. This enormous building was thought capable of housing 1000 pupils.

In 1914, at 60 years old, Fr Hearn volunteered to serve as a chaplain in World War I, and ministered to the Australian Forces at Gallipoli and later in France. His heroism in tending to the wounded won him a Military Cross. Many of the parishioners lost sons and fathers in the war and several are commemorated in the church.

Father McGrath Undertakes Church Completion

Fr Patrick McGrath - Parish Priest 1920-1932.  Photographer: Unknown.Fr Patrick McGrath was Parish Priest for 12 years from 1920 to 1932 and was responsible for building the spire which cost £17400.

After World War I, in the relatively prosperous twenties, another great burst of building took place. The temporary altar was replaced with a permanent marble altar, and the altar in the Lady Chapel was installed. So confident were the parishioners of the day that they took to the task of completing the tower and the spire - a measure of their confidence was the decision to employ Mr Vanheems and have him significantly increase the height from Wardell's original design.