Tuesday, 1 April 2008
Maryknoll was established in 1949 by Father Wilfred Pooley (1912-1969) (pictured above) as a Catholic community based on the principals of faith, family life and co-operative enterprise. This was part of a broader movement in the Catholic community, encouraged by the Melbourne Archbishop, Dr Daniel Mannix, for Catholics to move away from the distractions of the city to a rural environment and become closer to God. A National Catholic Rural Movement was established in 1939 to support Catholic farmers and Father Pooley was very keen to establish a
'City of God' in a rural community and paid a deposit of 100 pounds on 218 hectares (540 acres) in Tynong North, on March 25th, 1949. The rest of the purchase price of 4,400 pounds was lent by the Handley family of Dandenong, and was initially in the name of Margaret Handley, who is pictured in the back row of the St Mary's Parish Ladies Tennis team .
The first settlers lived in 'temps', very basic dwellings without running water, electricity , gas or other 'mod cons'. Families then moved onto two acres block, where a modest three bedroom house was built. The picture below is of Ted and young Martin Knox, taken 1959, outside their home.
The cornerstones of community life, the Holy Family Church and the Holy Family School (pictured below in 1963) were both completed in 1950. Maryknoll had a number of co-operative industries including a housing co-operative, a joinery, hardware store and an aerated water factory. Other towns in Casey and Cardinia were established as stopping places on transport routes, or to serve the surrounding farming community and for Maryknoll to be established on the values of faith and religion gives it a unique place in the history of Casey and Cardinia. More information on Maryknoll can be found in the book Maryknoll : history of a Catholic Rural Settlement by Gael White. It is held at Pakenham library.
Photo credits : the photograph of Father Pooley comes from Gael White's book referred to in the text. The photograph of the Knox house and the Holy Family School are from the Knox family collection. the photograph of the St Mary's Tennis team comes from A Parish carved from the bush : a centenary history of the Dandenong Parish by Greg Dickson.