Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Wentworthville - a Carmelite Family Parish


 
 
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Who We Are

Our Vision

We, the parishioners of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Wentworthville, cherish the gift of belonging to a worshipping faith community. We seek to love and serve God as members of the Carmelite family.

In looking to the future, our vision is that all families feel supported, connected and valued as they live and grow in their faith.

 


 

Parish Team

Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish is in the care of the Carmelite Friars.

Parish Priest:

Fr Denis Andrew OCarm

   
Assistant Priests:

Fr John Powell OCarm
Fr Martinho Da Costa OCarm

   
Priest in Community: Fr Anthony Scerri OCarm
   
Parish Secretary: Lyn Bryant
   
Pastoral Assistant: Paola Yevenes

Contact the parish office


The Carmelites


 

History

Read the history of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish.

Finding a home

Wentworthville in 1919 was a small hamlet of which little was known outside of its own immedidate environs.

Wentworthville then could boast of a few small places of business and a railway station from which came and went almost a dozen trains to and from the metropolis each day.

Wentworthville was then part of the Parish of Parramatta, which extended roughly from Granville to Prospect, across to Blacktown, Schofields and Baulkham Hills, thence back to where it joined the Parish of North Parramatta, in what is now the City of Parramatta.

The late Monsignor Thomas O'Reilly was then Parish Priest, and he ministered to the spiritual needs of this vast area with the help of two assistant priests. Our numbers in Wentworthville were few, and of necessity Mass in our midst was infrequent and irregular. During this time (1889-1919), Mass was celebrated in the home of Mr and Mrs John Madden.

A list of weekly Catechism marks at Wentworthville in 1918 shows the family names of Austin, Benn, Bruce, Caulder, Clancey, Clayton, Cook, Currie, Curry, Daly, Davidson, Dorahy, Fairbanks, Gaynor, Gayton, Hales, Harcombe, Holland, Hunt, Hyde, Jenkins, Leonard, Liddle, Madden, Marshall, McPherson, Murphy, Readford, Reidy, Ricardo, Shepherd, Waski, Williams and Winkler. Six children were prepared for First Holy Communion on Christmas Day, 1918.

As time went on our number, though still small, were increasing and soon became too large for the private residence. Arrangements were made to hire the Wentworthville School of Arts for Mass every fortnight. Gradually this, too, failed to serve the purpose, and eventually a Committee was formed to explore the possibilities of purchasing a suitable site on which to erect a church-school.

The scheme was an ambitious one. Land was procured in Bennett Street, and on Sunday 9 April, 1922, the foundation stone of the first church in Wentworthville was laid by the Archbishop of Sydney, the late Archbishop Michael Kelly DD.

St Columba's Church School

Becoming a parish

From then on the progress was marked and rapid. In May 1943 a 3 bedroom brick cottage was purchased for $2800. The cottage was on the land on the corner of Bennett and Garfield Streets. It was let until 1946 when His Eminence the Cardinal constituted Wentworthville a separate parish (St Columba's), embracing Westmead, Wentworthville, Pendle Hill and Toongabbie, and Rev Father Tim Kennedy was appointed its first Pastor. Father Kennedy boarded with Miss Fitzpatrick for six weeks until the people in the rented house vacated it.

On 22 December 1946, Margaret Bowman, George Muscat and Paul Vassallo were the first children presented for Baptism, recorded in the Parish Register.

In 1948, Fr Fullendorf was appointed Assistant Priest. He was followed by Fr JJ Hatton, Fr Hugh Leonard, Fr Maurice Roche, Fr Roland Darmenia, and Fr Joe Weaver who was his last assistant in Wentworthville.

Fr Kennedy laboured zealously amongst an ever-expanding Catholic population, until the area became to unwieldy, and in 1951 Westmead and Toongabbie were created seperate parishes.

The original church at Wentworthville became totally inadequate to cope with the congregations. The great building project of these years was the present church, built by AW Edwards & Son. This new church was solemnly blessed and opened by His Eminence the Cardinal on 6 March 1955.

St Columbas (now OLMC) Church

In June 1956 the parish was placed in the care of the Carmelites. From 30 September 1956, the parish church became known as Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church.

Building of the present Priory commenced in 1959 and was completed and blessed by His Eminence Cardinal Gilroy in 1961.

Fr Paul Knüppel OCarm

Parish growth (Pendle Hill - Greystanes)

In May 1957 volunteers were requested to dig the foundations of the new church and school at Pendle Hill. The tender, $82 000, of Mr C Frank Cefai was accepted and the work was begun on Monday morning, 27 May.

The Foundation Stone Ceremony, by His Eminence, the Cardinal, took place at Pendle Hill on Sunday 1 September.

School classes for 5 and 6 year olds were commenced on the opening day of 1958, 28 January. Classes were conducted in the open and in a garage for the first week, after which a small room was made available in the new building. The Teacher-In-Charge was Miss Margaret McGibbon, assisted by Miss Melita Camilleri.

On 13 April 1958 the Blessing and opening of the new church and school at Pendle Hill was performed by his Lordship Bishop Freeman. Two Masses were celebrated at the new church in Old Prospect Road each Sunday.

St Simon Stock Foundation

For some years it had been impossible to place all boys at Catholic schools when they left the primary school at the end of Grade 3. Early in 1959 plans were underway to commence the first section of a complete school for boys in the parish, at Pendle Hill.

At the beginning of 1960, St. Simon Stock College (now St. Pauls Catholic College, Greystanes) was commenced with Grade 4.

The new school building was commenced in September 1961. In 1962 staff, including Fr Robert Cassar OCarm, were appointed to teach the new classes. On Sunday afternoon, 1 July 1962, the new school was solemnly blessed and opened by His Eminence, Cardinal Gilroy. As time progressed, other religious orders, such as the Dominican Sisters, were appointed by the Cardinal to the Pendle Hill schools to increase the number of religious staff.

Opening of Buildings at St Simon Stock

His Eminence, the Cardinal, in September 1969, approved the establishment at Pendle Hill of what is termed a "filial house", that is a branch house of the Wentworthville Priory. Two Carmelites were to reside at Pendle Hill and minister to the spiritual needs of those living in that section of the parish. The Carmelite Priory at Pendle Hill was blessed and opened by His Lordship Bishop Key MSC on Sunday 26 October 1969.

On 20 January 1972 the new parochial district of Greystanes was created. Although a new parish in this area was long overdue, it was with regret that the Carmelite Fathers left the many friends that they made in that area. The new Parish Priest was Father T Duggan.

Parish priests

1946 - 1956 Fr Tim Kennedy
1956 - 1965 Fr Paul Knüppel OCarm  
1965 - 1970 Fr Ted Nugent OCarm  
1970 - 1976 Fr Bob Dowd OCarm  
1976 - 1982 Fr Vin Walsh OCarm  
1982 - 1987 Fr Bruce Tuncks OCarm  
1987 - 1993 Fr James Pilkington OCarm  
1993 - 1996 Fr Robert McCormack OCarm  
1996 - 2004 Fr Laurie Timms OCarm  
2005 - 2010 Fr Denis Andrew OCarm  
2011 - 2013 Fr Paul Sireh OCarm  
2013 - 2016 Fr Paul Cahill OCarm  
2016 - Fr Denis Andrew OCarm  
Carmelites in Wentworthville, 1956 - 2006

by Fr Bernard Shah OCarm, on the occassion of the fiftieth anniversary of Carmelite ministry in Wentworthville

In 1946 Cardinal Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney, created the parish of Wentworthville. Formerly part of the Parramatta parish, it took in Wentworthville, Pendle Hill, Westmead and Toongabbie. Father Tim Kennedy was appointed the first parish priest.

After World War II, there was a great migration from Europe to Australia, including Maltese, many of them settling in the Wentworthville area. Their chaplain was a young Maltese Carmelite friar, Father Joseph Cassar; his parents had migrated to Sydney in the late twenties, and he had returned to Malta to become a Carmelite. He was joined in the Maltese chaplaincy by Father Michael Camilleri and later, Father Tarcisius Licari.

The Maltese community in Western Sydney was largely concentrated in the Wentworthville area, and eventually the Cardinal requested that the Carmelites take charge of the Wentworthville parish. Father Ted Nugent, then Prior Provincial, accepted, and nominated Father Paul Knüppel O Carm as first prior and parish priest.

St Columba's Church became the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel; over time the original school buildings, converted from other uses, were replaced by purpose built structures. The old presbytery was replaced by a priory. In later years, a church school was built at Pendle Hill (now Greystanes), and was served by Carmelites Michael Camilleri and Arnold Vaneman. A secondary school - St Simon Stock, now St Paul's - was serviced by the Carmelites, with Fr Antony Scerri O Carm as headmaster.

The Carmelites
The Carmelites began around 1190AD as a group of hermits living on Mount Carmel, a range similar to our Blue Mountains, but finishing in a promontory overlooking the modern Israeli port city of Haifa. There was a lull in the Crusades, and many crusaders wanted to stay in Palestine, in a life searching for God; they were joined by hermits who decided to end their days in the land of Jesus, and pilgrims who wanted to stay in the Holy Land. They chose Mt. Carmel because it was sacred to the Old Testament prophet Elijah who had a deep and realistic relationship with God; they named themselves the Brothers of Mary because they were men of the middle ages, the age of chivalry, and declared Mary their lady and their inspiration, the Lady of the Place. Our tradition says all the early hermits were Europeans, but I wonder if some were Palestinian Christians: the community was destroyed by the Moslem victors around 1290, and most of the European hermits had returned to their homelands by the mid thirteenth century. They lived in separate hermitages - probably beehive shaped as had their Greek forebears on the Mountain. At the centre of the cells was a chapel, where they gathered for prayer. Around 1214 they were given a rule of life by Albert Avagadro, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. It was a guide to living, simple and realistic, and, with some additions, is the Rule Carmelites live today.

With the move to Europe and the developing foundations there, Rome took notice, and gradually we became one of the mendicant orders - the friars or preaching brothers, who began with the Franciscans, followed by the Dominicans, Augustinians and ourselves. We retained our emphasis on solitude and prayer, but engaged in the vital ministry of working among the poor of the developing cities and towns of the Middle Ages. Ours is a way of contemplation, community, being among the people. I've often thought that if the Carmelites had a 'company song' it would be "The Impossible Dream"! Yet it is an attitude and a way of life that has persevered for eight hundred years.

Carmelites are a Contemplative...
Contemplation is being aware of God, loving God, faithful. It is not simply a quiet way of praying. It is knowing God loves me as I am, is my strength and forgives. It is being God's friend, knowing God will never cut me loose. It has little to do with words or approval or feeling holy. It is an awareness of God's loving presence in me, a presence that never goes away. Contemplative prayer is giving time and space for this awareness. It can be done by busy people. Length is not important. It is loving God and being love by God.

Community...
We Carmelites are community people - it's of our essence. We live in community, we share prayer together, we review our life and ministries, we get to know each other. The hermits on Carmel did that, even if their lifestyle was different. And they offered hospitality to passing pilgrims and the lonely and those who needed help. Today's Carmelites live in the heart of the world, not locked into our own lives. And to help us to be community, we live in the midst of community: school, mission, the slums, universities, parish . . . and here in Wentworthville we live in the larger community of the parish and the suburb and the diocese - we are with you in (Y)OUR community.

In the Midst of the People
I believe it's not the priests that make the parish, but the people. And the people certainly make this parish. You have a deep involvement in the parish, and you can surely call it YOUR parish. You have great involvement in all sorts of areas: fundraising, care for the poor, devotions, supporting the Carmelites in East Timor, the choir, cleaning the church, liturgical matters, teaching religion in the state schools, organising and directing the sacramental programmes, parish council, finance committee - and all this as a multicultural parish.

Until very recently the Parramatta Sisters of Mercy directed the parish school. There were so many of them involved over the years, but mention must be made of Sisters Margaret, Carmelita and Noni. The school continues the tradition with Mrs Anne Marrins and her team of teachers, office staff and volunteers.

There is an openness in this parish community, a willingness to be involved - plus a wonderful ability to let the Carmelites know exactly what you think! I suspect that this is the result of a number of things: the multiculturalism of the parish, honesty linked with commitment, the fact that the priests of the parish are a religious community. And a very important team is those working in the priory - Lyn Bryant, Diane Prettyman, Alison Peacock and the counters.

Carmelites in Wentworthville
Priors And Parish Priests: Paul Knüppel (deceased) (1956-1965); Ted Nugent (deceased) (1965-1970); Bob Dowd (deceased) (1970-1976); Vin Walsh (1975-1982); Bruce Tuncks (1982-1987); James Pilkington (deceased) (1987-1993); Robert McCormack (1993-1996); Laurie Timms (Prior 1996-2001 & Parish Priest 1996-2004); Bernard Shah (Prior 2001 - ); Denis Andrew (Parish Priest 2005 - ).

Associate Pastors & Residents: Joe Abad, Denis Andrew, Benedict Baldacchino (deceased), Damian Barker (deceased), Michael Brundell, Thomas Butler, Peter Byrth, Paul Cahill, Michael Camilleri (deceased), Joe Cassar (deceased), Bob Frizzell (deceased), Paul Gurr, Pat Harney, Jeff Hawting, Peter Kelly, Noel Kierce, Tim Malone (deceased), Laurie Moffat (deceased), Tony Moffat (deceased), Greg Moore, Tom Murphy (deceased), George Muscat, Michael O'Callaghan, Ken Petersen, John Powell, Antony Scerri, Frank Scicluna, Bernard Shah, Frank Shortis, Paul Sireh, Wayne Stanhope, Arnold Vaneman (deceased), Jerome Watt.

Personal Glimpses
Michael Camilleri was enraged when people parked across the entrance to the priory. People would find a notice on their windscreens: "B*******! Do not park here!"

Joe Cassar was a learned man, fluent in several languages. He once asked me "What do Australians mean when you say give us the drum?" which changed over the next two weeks to 'you Australians' and 'we Australians'. I never had the heart to tell him I was a New Zealander!

Marius Dawson had been lent a parishioner's weekender to take the novices for a day out. He decided he would get lunch, telling them that he would show them how to really cook fish and chips. He set the kitchen on fire!

Bob Dowd had a dry wit and a great sense of humour. He was fond of home visits, blessing homes and celebrating home Masses. His organisation skills weren't always marvellous: one year he was walking with parishioners from Mount Carmel to Westmead to celebrate an outdoor Mass for the feast of Christ the King, when he suddenly remembered that he had promised to provide an organ for the Mass. The walk came to a sudden halt, and he rushed off to get a truck to transport the organ, urging the parishioners to walk slowly. The Mass commenced rather late!

Paul Knüppel is still a legend here, deservedly, as the first Carmelite parish priest at Wenty. There are many memories: his heroic efforts, aided especially by the Maltese community, to raise funds to build the school and priory - locking the church doors to stop the flock leaving before Mass ended - standing at the door from the sacristy to the sanctuary waving his hands to tell Michael Camilleri to hurry up - starting the Mount Carmel cricket club and playing in the local competition - being the driving force behind the founding and growth of the Cumberland Catholic Club. He was made an honorary member of the Wentworthville RSL Club because of his commitment to the Anzac Day services.

Tim Malone after reading the gospel at Mass one morning, said "I woke this morning and normally I say "Good morning God", but this morning I said "Good God - morning!" And, after Wenty's first attempt at the new Rite of Reconciliation that took over an hour, when asked what he thought of it replied "It's like the Holy Year - should be held every fifty years!"

James Pilkington - many of us have memories of James standing outside the church after Mass and talking to the parishioners, particularly the Maltese. There is a painting by Bill Casey in the priory showing him talking to Frank and Carrie Sultana and it's on display in the parish centre today.

(Thanks to the parishioners who provided these glimpses).

The Wenty Carmelite Community Today
Bernard Shah (Prior), Denis Andrew (Parish Priest), John Powell (Associate Pastor), Paul Sireh (Associate Pastor), Joe Abad (Chaplain to the Richmond and Blacktown Campuses, University of Western Sydney), Michael Brundell (Spirituality and Development at Marymount Mercy Centre, Castle Hill), Antony Scerri (General Councillor, Rome).