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You are here: Home About Us Churches History St Ignatius' Church A Church on the Hill - 1928 - Present
A Church on the Hill - 1928 - Present 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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Blessing of a Church: Final Stage

Blessing of the St Ignatius' Church spire (Cardinal Ceretti at centre).  Photographer: Unknown.On 7 October 1928, Cardinal Ceretti, Papal Legate to the International Eucharistic Congress in Sydney the previous month, blessed and dedicated the spire. It was the tallest structure in Australia.

The finished St Ignatius' Church now crowned the hill.

The spire of St Ignatius was a strong symbol of triumph - over the struggle to gain the site, to find the money to build the church, and to continue to provide a Catholic education for all children in the parish.

Depression Hits Richmond

Barely a year after the consecration of the spire, the Great Depression hit, and hit Richmond very hard. Families struggling to survive on sustenance labour had no money to give to the church to pay off the debts.

The austerity of World War II followed the depression, and while this at least gave the people of Richmond work it was not a time for great celebration.

The Daughters of Divine Zeal In Richmond

In the post war period Richmond became a migrant suburb. The grand houses on Docker's Hill became boarding houses as the post war housing pressure made living on such a scale uneconomical. The parish responded with migrant chaplains, and in particular in helping the Italian and Polish communities. The Daughters of Divine Zeal (FDZ) arrived in the parish to run hostels and a children's home, and many languages other than English and many accents other than Irish began to be heard.

Acknowledgement to the Assistant Priests

Although the only names we have mentioned in the course of this brief history of St Ignatius' Church have been those of the Parish Priests, they would themselves be the first to acknowledge that their Assistant Priests contributed greatly. For more than 100 years, from Fr M'Kiniry who was Fr Dalton's Assistant Priest in 1866, to the present Assistant Priests at St Ignatius', each one is equally due credit.

Endings and Beginnings

By the early 1960s the proud spire had begun to crumble and threatened to fall. At the same time sweeping changes occurred in the church - Latin, a universal though remote language, was replaced by modern languages, priests turned away from the marble altars and faced the people, modern forms replaced the old ways. With a zeal for the new, some of the beautiful fittings of the church which spoke of older ways were removed. The spire was restored, but all else was changed.

The Church Lives On

The most important work that has been done over the years has not been the material buildings that have been erected, but the spiritual activities that have taken place within the walls of our church, in the parish, and in the hearts and souls of its parishioners.

Without the generous support of the lay Catholic parishioners and work from the religious, the history of St Ignatius' Church could have been a very different story. As Fr Dalton spoke to a crowded congregation in St Ignatius' Church on the eve of his departure for Sydney on Easter Sunday, 21 April 1878, "whatever good has been done for religion in St Ignatius' Church and Parish, is your work as well as ours".

As we think about what was before and what is now, the call to action and to justice is even clearer. For once to be a Catholic meant to build or be part of a world unto itself, now we are called to be fully in the world but not of it. We can still be inspired by the great deeds of the past and indeed the great buildings, but we must aspire to build the faith that seeks justice.

Sources: Centenary of St Ignatius' Church Richmond 1867 - 1967 (Printers: Bernard, Overman and Neander) and The Story of Our Parish - Author Unknown.