Link to Home Page History
 
  Pre-History
 
 
  We recognize the traditional owners of the land on which St Andrew’s is located.
We acknowledge the people of the Kulin nation, in particular the people of the Kurung clan of the Wathaurung people, who lived on the western side of the Werribee River and Wurundjeri people who lived to the east of the river.
Keep in mind that John Batman signed his agreement with the local aboriginal people to purchase land between Port Phillip and Geelong on 6th June 1835, life, and a Catholic presence was apparent in Wyndham / Werribee soon after.
Documented evidence of a Catholic presence in Werribee is available from as early as September 1853.
Thomas Cody and his wife were Catholics. They travelled to Australia from Kilkenny in Ireland aboard the steamer "Australia" for a 12-month work contract as an agricultural labourer at the Werribee Park.
 
  The First Mass
 
  The first Mass in what was to become St Andrew’s parish was celebrated in Little River in 1857.
At the time Little River was serviced from the Geelong Mission.
Wyndham / Werribee was attached to St Mary’s Parish of Williamstown until 1906, and during that time priests travelled to Werribee to celebrate Mass.
Until 1868, Mass was celebrated in a home in the “Black Forest”, which was about 2 miles from the township of Werribee. The home belonged to Michael Wall whose descendants continue to live in the municipality to this day.
 
  St Andrew’s First Church
 
  The first Church was built from local bluestone and is still used today.
The building was added to and has been recently refurbished.
It was opened and blessed on the 3rd September 1871.
The building was used as a school, and is now the Parish Hall.
This photograph was originally published in The Weekly Times on 15th December 1894.
However the records show that the photograph was taken prior to 7 June 1890, for on this date Fr. Patrick Walshe, the Parish Priest of Williamstown, informed the Board of Public Health that the additions to the church had been completed.
These additions included the porch on the south end of the building which is not shown in this photograph.
 
1870 church
Photo published with permission of The State Library of Victoria.
 
  Population Growth
 
  The Australian census shows that the populations of Werribee township and its immediate environs grew quickly as a result of a number of factors. Not the least was the return to Melbourne of former gold miners, the forced break up of the large land holdings by the Closer-Settlement farms act and by migration from many parts of the world.
 
 
Census year Werribee township Shire of Wyndham / Werribee Comment
1871 366 1,476  
1901 693    
1911 2,301   At this time much more land became available for closer settlement as a result of Government legislation, much of it based on irrigation.
1933   7,853  
1947 3,348    
1954   16,114  
1966 8,228    
1971
12,872    
2012
  184,191  

 
  St Andrew’s Red Brick Church
 
  In 1898, Fr. Gerald Byrne of Parish Priest of Williamstown planned and erected the first brick Church on the present site.
 
  Establishment of a Parish
 
Appointment Notice
  The establishment of St Andrew’s as a parish almost went unnoticed. The Advocate news paper of the day noted obliquely, under the heading of the appointment of Rev. P.O'Reilly from Yea as Parish Priest.
 
  Rev Fr Michael Heaney - First Parish Priest
 
Fr. M Heaney
  For some reason Fr. P.O’Reilly did not arrive and Fr. Michael Heany took his place. Fr. Michael Heany remained Parish Priest until his death in 1921. Father Heany was interred in a specially constructed vault in the St Andrew’s church. During Fr Heaney’s time as Parish Priest the Presbytery was erected, as was the brick school which is opposite the bluestone church.
 
  Parish is a Collective Noun
 
 
  The life of the St Andrew’s Parish always included a complex social component. From the earliest days people gathered, for physical, emotional and spiritual support and the Parish provided the glue for this gathering to happen. The story of St Andrew’s Parish is a story of social interaction and often with the focus of fund raising for the various parts of Parish life.
 
  The Advocate, 10th February 1927.
 
  To reduce debt of £1,900 on St Andrew’s Parish, a bazaar was opened in the Mechanics’ Hall Werribee on Monday evening last. 7th inst. by the Very Rev. John Lonergan. There was a large attendance and among those present were many non-Catholics. The bazaar was being held to wipe out the parish debts of £1,900. Of this amount £1,500 was owing on the school, and the balance represented the purchase of a spacious block of land at Laverton for a future church, and the renovation of St Andrew’s hall. The bazaar will continue every night this week, and will conclude on next Monday evening.
Opening and Blessing St Andrew’s Tennis court – November 1928.

 
  St Andrew’s Church Alterations and Extensions
 
  The Church was extended in 1937/38 to include the new sanctuary and two transepts along with other major ecclesiastical furniture including the high altar, pulpit and altar rails.
  • The alteration and extension to St Andrew’s was Blessed by Archbishop Mannix on 16 January 1938.
  • St. Michael’s Church, Little River, was built in 1921 while Fr. P. A. Vaughan was Parish Priest.
  • The first St. Mary’s Church, Werribee South, was originally a wooden building brought from Lara and altered to suit. It was erected in Diggers Road and opened in 1938, St Mary’s church was later moved to the present site at the corner of Whites and O’Connors Road – January 1953.
  • Opening and blessing of three new classrooms at St Andrew’s Primary School – 1957.
  • Centenary of Municipality – March 1963.
  • Opened St Paul’s College North Altona - 1965.
  • Opening & Blessing MacKillop College April 1970.
  • Opening & Blessing of new convent, Mortimer Street – March 1971.
  • Centenary of first St Andrew’s Catholic church in Werribee – September 1971.
  • Opening of St Andrew’s school extensions on demolished convent site 1972.
  • St Peter’s church at Hoppers Crossing was build in 1972.
  • Opening & Blessing of the St Andrew’s Primary School Library – May 1977.
  • St Peter’s Hoppers Crossing became a Parish in March 1978.
  • Opening & Blessing of school extensions. (4 new classrooms / admin / library) – July 1981
  • Mission by CSSR – October 1980 – September 1981.
  • Formation of Core Group – 1981.
  • Appointment of Pastoral worker - 1983.
  • Opening & Blessing of Corpus Christi Primary School – 1985.
  • Opening & Blessing of (Werribee North Catholic Primary School), now Bethany Catholic Primary School.
  • Opening of St Andrew’s school extensions. (4 New classrooms and Teacher preparation areas.) 1995.
  • Opening of St Andrew’s school extensions. (2 New classrooms refurbishment of existing classrooms and Administration) – April 2000.
  • Opening & Blessing Thomas Carr Secondary College – 1996.
  • Centenary of red brick church – August 1998.
  • Centenary of Parish - April 2006.
  • Purchase of land at Wyndham Vale for Parish Primary School & Parish Centre – 2006.
  • Construction commenced of the new Wyndham Vale Primary School - named as Our Lady of the Southern Cross Primary School.
  • Purchase of land in Tarneit for Parish Primary School & Parish Centre.
  • The new Tarneit Primary School - named as St. John the Apostle Catholic Primary School opened in 2015.
 
  Priests and Parish Pastoral Workers
 
  St Andrew’s Parish Priests
1906 P.O’Reilly and Michael Heaney
1921 Michael Heaney and PA Vaughn
1924 D Coakley and John F Egan
1926 W Walsh
1936 Joseph O’Neil
1936 N Morrissey
1940 L Curren
1949 P O’Doherty
1950 J O’Carroll
1960 M O’Sullivan
1969 Des Cameron
1973 Frank O’Loughlin
1978 Michael Nolan
1991 Barry Moran
2000 Frank Buhagiar

Assistant Priests
1920 Gerald Fitzpatrick
1936 Joseph O’Neil
1936 T Joyce
1938 G Coughlan
1939 R Beare
1949 J M McLaren
1952 J Heffey
1954 L E Smith
1955 L Dimech
1955 J Heffey
1957 F Casamento
1961 S Chao
1965 J Petrauskas
1967 J McCarthy
1968 L Secolari and L Dimech
1970 S O’Connell
1971 Pearse Smark
1972 G McKernan
1972 Tom Carra & G McKernan
1976 Frank Buhagiar
1977 Dom Di Georgio
1980 Barry Hughes
1983 David Daniel
1983 Robert Cannon
1985 Tony Kerin
1987 Michael O’Connell
1992 Terry Callahan
1996 Paul Rogers & Gerard Reed
2000 Jim Clarke
2001 Mark Withoos
2004 Hien Vu
2006 John Joel Vergara
2009 Cameron Forbes
2011 Shabin Kaniampuram
2012 Abraham Santiyagu
2015 Benneth Osuagwu
2015 Shymon Thekkekalathungal
2016 Darien Sticklen
 
Note from the history researcher - Lawrie Grant
The first evidence of a Catholic Presence in Wyndham / Werribee seems to be in 1853. The focus of the above information is to provide a brief overview of a Catholic Presence from 1853 up to today, in 2006. The outcome of the research reflects the work of Sr Xavier Curtain in her book “The Parish of Werribee and Little River” published about 1985.