St Finbar's Glenbrook Parish

St Finbar - The History

Our Patron

St Finbar's History
Icon of St Finbar. Learn more about the ‘Symbols of St Finbar’s’ here. Photography: Peter McMahon

The patron saint of our Parish is St Finbar (Finbarr) whose feast is celebrated on 25 September.

Finbar's birth is given as 570AD and Muskerry, Cork, Ireland given as the birthplace.

The country at this time was undergoing great expansion, especially of Christian churches and monasteries. Finbar founded the See of Cork and as a result was made a Bishop.

Finbar worked hard among the people to spread the faith.

It is thought that St Finbar began his monastic life on a little island in the lake of Gougane Barra.

As well as a monastery, Finbar established a "great school of learning" which continues even to this day.

St Finbar died in 630AD and he is buried within the enclosure of the monastery he established.

Our Parish

Fr James Sheridan
Fr James Sheridan.

Until 1911, Catholics in the lower mountains worshipped at Penrith.

Then in 1911, the re-routing of the railway line round Glenbrook brought with it a large number of workers and their families.

To begin with, Mass was said on week mornings in a cottage occupied by Fr James Sheridan, (Parish Priest of Penrith 1892-1900), on the site now occupied by the RAAF at Lapstone.

Mass was also said in the home of Mr and Mrs Wood and in the Glenbrook School of Arts.

St Finbar's Church was built by Fr Thomas Barlow (Parish Priest of Penrith) at a cost of £200-£300 ($400-$600).

The church was blessed and opened by Archbishop Michael Kelly in August 1912. The architect was Mr Charles Fowler. Mr Norrie donated the land for the church and Mr Nolan donated the Stations of the Cross.

Fr Thomas Barlow
Fr Thomas Barlow.

When the railway line was completed in 1913, many of the workers left and by 1917 there were less than twelve people worshipping at St Finbar's. The population gradually increased and in 1928 a petition by parishioners for more frequent masses led to the church being transferred from Penrith to Springwood, with the priests to be supplied from St Columba’s Seminary. Mass was to be said each fortnight and transport was to be provided for the priests. The first Mass under this arrangement was Sunday 7 October 1928. (The collection for October of that year was £3.0.0 ($6). By February/March, the collection had risen to £22.13.3 (approx $45.30).

The Parish of St Finbar’s, Glenbrook was established on 30 March 1965 and Fr Danny Fay was appointed its Parish Priest. Under his guiding hand, a new church/hall was built and blessed and opened on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 8 December 1966 by Rt Rev Monsignor Thomas Veech, then Rector of St Columba’s Seminary, Springwood.

Fr Danny Fay was farewelled on 8 July 1990, and Fr Alex Sciberras became administrator of the parish until Fr Brian Larkey was appointed as Parish Priest in July 1991.

Fr Larkey was responsible for having the new church of St Finbar’s built and the dedication took place on 7 May 1995, the ceremony being conducted by the Most Rev Bede V Heather, DD, LSS., first Bishop of Parramatta. Fr Larkey was also instrumental in installing the beautiful pipe organ, which was formally inaugurated on 15 October 1995.

Fr Peter Dowd took over from Fr Larkey on 1 March 1997. Just over two years later Fr Dowd left the parish to join the Discalced Carmelites and Fr John McSweeney was appointed Parish Priest on 16 August 1999.

Fr McSweeney was officially installed by Bishop Kevin Manning, the second Bishop of Parramatta, on 5 September 1999. During Fr McSweeney's absence on continuous full-time duty for the Royal Australian Navy in 2003, Fr Kevin Lee was Parish Administrator for nine months from April until December. Fr John was reappointed Parish Priest for a further six years in August 2005.

In August 2006, work commenced on a new presbytery with completion in April 2007. Bishop Kevin Manning blessed the new residence in March 2008 and Fr Maurice McNamara moved into the downstairs unit after his retirement from Windsor Parish in April 2008. During Fr John's long-service leave in 2008, Fr Joseph Thomas was administrator.

In 2012 the parish undertook the renovation of the parish hall (the original Church built by Fr Fay).  

On 16th August 2012 Fr Wim Hoekstra was appointed as the new parish priest of Glenbrook and Fr McSweeney was transferred to become Parish Priest and Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.

Fr Wim was installed as Parish Priest on 18 November 2012 by Bishop Anthony Fisher, 3rd Bishop of Parramatta, who also blessed and officially opened the Father Thomas Barlow Centre, the original church built in 1912 which had been renovated by St Finbar’s School.

PARISH PRIESTS & Administrators

Father Danny Fay                                 30 March 1965 11 October 1990
Father Alex Sciberras (Administrator)     July 1990 30 June 1991
Father Brian Larkey                              23 July 1991 31 December 1996
Father Arthur Cook (Administrator)        Jan-Feb 1997
Father Peter Dowd                                1 March 1997  10 August 1999
Father John McSweeney                        16 August 1999 16 August 2012
Father Kevin Lee (Administrator)            April  December 2003
Father Joseph Thomas (Administrator)    September – November 2008
Father
Wim Hoekstra                            16 August 2012- present 



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