Fr Reginaldo Lavilla MSP
A D M I N I S T R A T O R
Land on which the Church and Stage 1 & 2 of the school are built was a Government grant in about 1860.
Emu Plains was part of Penrith Parish. Fr. J. Fitzpatrick, Parish Priest of Penrith (1948-64) purchased land on the highway (opposite Hawkesbury Fruit Market) for later resale to fund the building of a church at Emu Plains.
Fr Kevin Hannan was appointed the first Parish Priest of Emu Plains in January 1974. He lived at the Presbytery at St. Benedict’s, Broadway for some months and would stay at a hotel in Penrith on each Saturday night and say Mass in Melrose Hall on the Sunday morning, then return to Broadway.
Prior to this, for about 2 years, Mass was celebrated by one of the priests from Penrith in Melrose Hall. Fr. Hannan returned to Broadway following his first Sunday at Emu Plains, put the collection proceeds away only to have it stolen by an intruder.
Fr. Faye from Glenbrook Parish owned a house in Moore Street, Glenbrook, which had become vacant and allowed Fr Hannan to live there, several months after his appointment to Emu Plains.
The building known as “the cottage” was owned and live in by Mrs Walker and at some stage an agreement was negotiated with her to sell it to the parish at a time suitable to her.
The next parcel of land on the north side of “the cottage” and the extension of McKay Street had a small one room with verandah building on it and was purchased by the parish (probably 1975). Mass was said there on Holy Days and other occasions and the building became known as “the Cathedral”.
The parish was trying to purchase the house and land that is now the parish office for use as a presbytery. The owner refused to sell it to the church. The house then went to auction and a meeting held at a parish picnic (at BMG Grounds, Castlereagh) appointed Mr Len Clarke to bid for the purchase of the property on behalf of the parish. His bid was successful and it was purchased at a price lower than that previously offered to the owner.
The bricks used for the external walls of the Church (now parish hall) came from St. Patrick’s Church, Blacktown which was being demolished. Pat & Rob O’Brien were employed as truck drivers by Mr Glen Graham of Lapstone. He kindly allowed them the use of his vehicles to drive to Blacktown early on Sunday mornings to pick up the bricks.
These were hand loaded by volunteers who drove to Blacktown and were unloaded behind Mrs Walker’s house and were cleaned by parishioners at any time during the week and at weekends.
This was a very long and tedious process. A parishioner (Bert Ahern, I think) hired a brick cleaning machine and over a long weekend all the remaining bricks were cleaned (I was booked towing the machine back to Rydalmere on the Tuesday following the weekend - no number plate on machine- but the fine was refunded following a letter explaining the circumstances to the Police Dept).
– Written by Bernie Le Breton, 5 June 1989