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.

Histories of the Parishes of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta
Windsor - St Matthew's Parish (Est 1832)
St Matthew's Church, windsor. Photo: Virginia Knight


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 & Administrators

Rev 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


The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.Luke 10:1-12. 17-20 (St Patrick’s Day)

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