History of the Parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta
From Dundas Valley in the east, west to Katoomba, south to Luddenham, and north to Richmond, the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta is made of 49 vibrant Parishes.
Dating back as early as 1832, each of these Parishes has its own unique story to tell and place in the history of the Diocese's formation and growth.
Windsor - St Matthew's Parish (Est 1832)
In 1831, the first Parish Priest Rev CV Dowling was appointed and St Matthew’s Catholic Parish was established in 1832. Bishop John Bede Polding later described Windsor parish as “70 miles long and very wide”. He also said that of the 140-odd communicants, no more than six or eight had been to confession for many years.
Rev JV Corcoran was appointed Parish Priest in 1835, and it was recorded that because the road to Windsor was so bad, coach drivers refused to travel on it. This may have been the cause of the death of Rev Corcoran who in 1837, was killed driving his gig near the tollgate.
James Doyle, a parishioner, died in 1836 leaving 350 pounds ($700) which was used to build the new church. In 1837, deeds were issued for the church and a school on the corner of Tebbutt and Church Streets. The church and school (which is presently the Parish Hall) was built by 1840.
Catholic education began in Windsor in 1834 when James and Esther Cassidy opened the first school. By 1838 there were 104 scholars attending. The Good Samaritan Sisters arrived in 1875 and have continued to be a presence in the life of the parish. Throughout the years, the Catholic community has often been asked to support those adversely affected by natural disasters.
In 1867, the 12 members of the Eather family drowned in floodwaters and were buried from St Matthew’s Church. One of the longest serving parish priests, Rev Leo Murphy (1954-1976) has been credited with bringing about a greater understanding and respect between Catholics and other religious denominations in the Windsor area. He was elected president of the Bowling Club, located across the road from the presbytery and was greatly respected by its members.
Rev James Dooley followed him as Parish Priest from 1976-1993. During this time, Bede Polding College was opened at South Windsor. Also planning commenced for a new Catholic primary school at Bligh Park and for the refurbishment/rebuilding of St Matthew’s Church.
Rev Maurice McNamara arrived in 1993 and was present for the building of Chisholm Primary School and for the completion of the refurbishment of St Matthew’s historic church.
PARISH PRIESTS & AdministratorsRev CV Dowling 1832-1835
Rev JV Corcoran 1835-1837
Rev John Brady 1837-1840
Rev J Slattery 1840-1843
Rev WJ Dunne 1843-1845
Rev J Kenny 1845
Rev M McGrath 1845-1847
Rev JJ Therry 1847-1848
Rev J Grant 1848-1851
Rev NJ Coffey 1851-1852
Rev P Hallihan 1852-1874
Rev JA Sheehy 1874-1878
Rev Maurus 1878-1886
Rev J Hayes 1886-1895
Rev James Sheridan 1895-1898
Rev B McDonnell 1898
Rev Lynch 1898
Rev SWhelan 1920-1924
Rev P Galvin 1924
Rev W O'Flynn 1940-1947
Rev M Coffey 1947-1954
Rev Leo S Murphy 1954-1976
Rev James Dooley 1976-1993
Rev Richard Cattell (Administrator) 1982
Rev Arthur Cook (Administrator) 1987
Rev Maurice McNamara 1993-2008
Rev Clifford D’Souza (Administrator) 2008 – 2010
Rev Arthur Cook 2010 - present