In this post we will take a look at the sorts of local historical information we can find in The Advocate, concentrating on reports of the opening of Catholic Churches in the Casey Cardinia region, but before we do here is a short overview of the Parish structure in the area. As early as the 1840s Priests from Melbourne used to visit the area - Pakenham, Nar Nar Goon and the Western Port region. In 1853 the Brighton Misson was established, a very large area that covered the south east part of Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula, Bass Coast and West Gippsland. In April 1883 the Dandenong Parish or Mission was established which covered nearly all of the Casey Cardinia region, plus Dandenong, Phillip Island, down to Wonthaggi and the Mornington Peninsula. This Parish was eventually split up with the Iona Parish being created in 1905, Koo-Wee-Rup in 1946, St Mary's North Tynong (or Maryknoll) in 1950 (combined with Iona in 1968), Pakenham in 1954, Berwick (including Cranbourne) in 1956, Doveton in 1962, Cranbourne in 1973, Endeavour Hills in 1980 and Narre Warren in 1982. This information and some of the information in the rest of this post comes from A Parish carved from the bush: the centenary history of the Dandenong Parish, 1883-1983.
Back to The Advocate - the first Catholic Church in the area was St Agatha's at Cranbourne which was opened on February 6, 1861, so a bit too early to be reported in The Advocate. However, the second St Agatha's which was opened on January 20, 1929 had a full page report, which you can read here. This church was opened by Archbishop Mannix and the total cost including fit-out was just over 3,100 pounds. The current St Agatha's was built in 1981. This Church was partially funded by a generous bequeath of $492,000 from Mr Eddie Donnelly who passed away in 1979. You can read more of the history on their website http://www.stagathas.org.au/
The opening of St Agatha's Church at Cranbourne in 1929 with the original weatherboard Church next to it.
The next church to open was St Patrick's in Pakenham which opened in 1871. The existing Church was built in 1976. The original Church is still standing and is now part of the St Patrick's School.
A report on the building of St Patricks in The Advocate July 29, 1871.
An early photo of St Patricks at Pakenham.
Source: North of the Line: a pictorial record published by the Berwick Pakenham Historical society
The first Berwick Catholic Church was officially opened by Archbishop Goold on March 31, 1878. It was originally known as St Joseph's, but later changed to St Michael's. The Advocate described the Church as a handsome and commodius edifice. You can read the full report here. The second Church at Berwick was opened on January 24 1937 by Archbishop Mannix. The Advocate had full report, including photographs, which you can read here. The old wooden church was removed having been sold to Dan Cunningham of Nar Nar Goon, but burnt down before he could use it. The current St Michael's Church was opened in 1984.
Archbishop Mannix at the opening of St Michael's in Berwick in 1937.
The Advocate January 28, 1937.
St Joseph's at Iona was the next Church to be opened, which took place on December 16, 1900. Iona was known as Bunyip South until 1905. The current St Joseph's Church was opened on April 14 1940. You can read The Advocate report about this here.
The opening of St Joseph's Iona in December 1900.
The Advocate December 22, 1900
Iona Church and Presbytery, c. 1909
Photo: 100 years of a faith community: St Joseph’s Iona 1905-2005 by Damian Smith (St Joseph’s Catholic Church, 2005)
The first decade of the twentieth century continued to be a busy time for the Dandenong Mission with three other Churches established. Two years after Iona, another Church was opened on the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp, this time at Koo-Wee-Rup. St John the Baptist Church was opened on August 24, 1902. You can read about this here. The current Church, built in Modernist Design, was opened in 1962. The Nar Nar Goon Catholic Church opened on May 29, 1904 on land donated by James Kelly. There is a short account in The Advocate here. The current St James was opened on March 13, 1971. On September 14, 1908 the Lang Lang Church was opened, it is called St Marys. The Advocate report can be found here.
St John the Baptist Church at Koo-Wee-Rup, 1950s.
Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society photograph.
The Tooradin Catholic Church opened on December 3, 1922 and, as befits a fishing village, it was named St Peters, after the Patron Saint of Fishermen. The report is here. The Church was closed and the building was moved to St Peter's College in Cranbourne in 2003 where it is used as a Chapel. A few weeks later, on December 31, 1922 Scared Heart Catholic Church at Gembrook opened. Here is the report. The Church was scheduled to be officially opened in July 1922, but the Archbishop couldn't make it due to the bad state of the roads after a lot of rain, it was rescheduled for October and had to be postponed again for the same reason. Gembrook was in the Fern Tree Gully Parish.
On September 3, 1950 St Mary's Rural Settlement was opened by Archbishop Mannix at North Tynong. Now called Maryknoll, you can read about the history of the settlement here. The Holy Family Church was opened in 1963, so we can't read a report on Trove as The Advocate is only digitised until 1954, about it, but this is the link to the report of the opening of the Community from The Advocate of September 6, 1950.
The Advocate September 6 1950
There are other Catholic Churches in Casey Cardinia which were opened after 1954 - The Holy Family Church at Doveton was opened in 1960. In either late 1961 or early 1962 St Kevin's at Hampton Park was opened - this was in a building that had been transported to the site - the old St Leonard's Church from Glen Waverley. You can see a photo of it on a blog post I have written on the history of Hampton Park here. They appear to have a newer building now, but I don't have any details on it. Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church was opened in February 1980 at Narre Warren and the St Paul Apostle Catholic Church at Endeavour Hills was opened on August 14, 1983.
If you come from a Catholic Family there is a whole range of local and family information in The Advocate which may be of interest including obituaries, school activities, debutante balls, advertisements from Catholic businesses, sports results, charity reports, crime reports.