St Therese’s Parish Centenary Mass – Welcome

(Master of Ceremonies, John Harvey)


Welcome everyone today‘s celebration of 100 years of life and service in our parish here at St Therese’s Essendon. My name is John Harvey, son of Gwen and Jack, born and baptised here 75 years ago and I am honoured to be your master of ceremonies for today’s celebration.

Today we remember and reflect on the people and events past and present that have contributed to and shaped our parish into what it is today.  We also remember and give thanks for all those pioneering parishioners who gave their time talents and generosity to build the parish we have today. Their legacy lives on in the strong community that continues in our parish.

In July 1922 the 3 1/4 acre site on which we gather today was purchased for £2700. On August 16, 1922 to a large house on the corner of Thistle and Richardson Street was purchased as a presbytery and Mass venue. The house now owned by Diana and Vincent Mollica.

In November 1933 the original parish priest Father Peter O’Brien and his parishioners decided to go ahead and plan to build this church we are gathered in today.

Two years later it was completed, furnished and officially opened by Archbishop Mannix on November 25, 1935.

We give thanks to our nine parish priests Fr Peter O’Brien, Fr Edward Fennessy, Fr Thomas Little, Fr John Pierce, Fr Albert Gilhooly, Fr Patrick Fitzpatrick, Fr John Mullally, Fr Bill Attard and Fr John Hannon and the Sisters of Charity for the wonderful leadership and guidance these past 100 years.

I would particularly like to acknowledge five members of our parish who have passed away in this our 100th year who were a great inspiration after a lifetime of service of serving our parish.

Bryan Guiney in his 89th year in January. Bryan was a Jack of all Trades, doing maintenance work as well as maintaining the gardens and in particular his roses. Bryan was 30 plus year member of the St Vincent De Paul Society. He was employed part time, one day a week but you’d find him here 6 out of the 7 days and on the 7th day he was a collector at 9 o’clock Mass.

Jim Ruth in his 90th year in March. Jim moved into the parish in Lincoln Road in 1950 and was a member of the parish chapter of the Knights for 50 years. He was a lector, a collector and he was heavily involved in the painting of the church in 2006. Jim and was an integral part of the restoration of the 100 pews in 2010, the conversion of the presbytery garage, the message stick display case. Jim was a wonderful carpenter. His wife Mary has always been and still is a great contributor to functions here.

Vince Catterall 92 years died in July. He was a leader in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He and his wife Maggie were responsible for the creation and maintenance of a commemorative garden and fountain. They also spent many years carrying the Eucharist to our parishioners and others at Arcadia.

Merna Moloney, 97 died in September. Merna and her husband Tom arrive in the parish in the early 1940s. Merna spent a lifetime on mothers committees, was a lively member of the congregation right until retiring to Acadia last year and was right beside Tom in all his parish activities.

Noel O’Brien 93 died in October. What would you say about the great Noel O’Brien?  He lived in the parish all his long life. He gave of his time and along with Carmel, gave generously to so many people: the priests, the nuns, the school and his fellow parishioners. Noel was a great mentor to many including myself. We can’t forget his worldwide humanitarianism. God bless Saint Noel.

There are three other long serving members of our parish here today who is still a delight to be around Joe Wallmeyer started delivering the Catholic papers in the 1940s started the ROC became parish secretary for nearly 30 years and is still on many parish committees.

Denis O’Sullivan is 96 and Seamus Devlin who’s 95. Both champions of the parish for their huge contributions to the upkeep on the gardens and the painting of the church, the restoration of the pews. Six months work, six days a week. Dennis and Seamus (along with Jim Ruth) reshaped the old altar boy entrance and built the grotto to Saint Therese. They continue to attend weekday and Sunday Masses. Both were long-time members of the Knights of Saint John.

Welcome to our special guests especially the priests and sisters who have served our parish community and school over the years, to past and current teachers from my school community. We welcome Sherri Balcombe from the Archdiocese Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, who continues to support indigenous programs in our parish community.

We have a number of apologies including from Archbishop Commensoli, Bishop Terry Curtain and  former Principal Chris Gleeson who could not make today’s Mass but send their best wishes for today’s celebration.

Finally will be having afternoon tea and display of 100 years of history in the school hall after our Mass, but I will say a little more about that later.

Please stand as we commence our celebration







Centenary Mass – Thank You & Invitation to Afternoon Tea


Thank you for joining us in today’s celebration for our Parish Centenary.

Thanks to our special guests, especially those who joined Fr John in concelebrating our Mass today.

Many people have worked long and hard to make today a special event in the life of our parish, so we thank them sincerely for their contribution. We’d especially like to thank the many Centenary Committee members.

Pioneering families:















Tony Feain

Carmen Merrigan

Therese Hanna

Paul Zammit

John O’Connor

Maresa Heath

Teresa Pong


And many, many more. God bless them.


It would be remiss of me, if we did not thank our wonderful choir for their singing today, under the direction of Felicity Baldock. Felicity is the musical director at St Columba’s College, and volunteered her time to lead the choir in months of preparation for today’s event. What a great effort and result by all.

Please join us for afternoon tea and a historic display, in the St Therese’s School Hall following Mass. The school hall is a short walk along Florence Street where you can enter via the main gates.

The audio-visual presentation, shown during Mass, will be replayed for those who couldn’t see it, in the Church shortly after Mass and then later at the hall for those who’d like to see it again.

And finally, if you haven’t already received a commemorative holy card and rosary beads, they will be available in the school hall during the afternoon.

We hope you continue to enjoy the rest of today’s celebration.

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