Previous Parish Priests

Fr Patrick Bonaventure Geoghegan ofm 1 January – March 1839

Fr Bonaventure Geoghegan, first Parish Priest of St Benedict’s

Fr Platt 1839

Fr Young

Fr Farrelly

Fr Hogan

Fr McEncroe 1843

Fr Farrelly 1846

Fr Mellitus A. Corish osb October 1850 – 30 June 1864

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Fr Mellitus Corish in his Benedictine cowl

Fr Timothy McCarthy 1864–68

Fr Patrick Carroll 1869–70

Fr John Dwyer osb 1872

R. Noble ‘Portrait of the Very Rev Dean Michael John Dwyer O.S.B.’ 1864
Crayon, oval (36.5 x 29.0 cm)
Collection of the National Library of Australia, Canberra (2078562)

Fr John Dwyer osb was appointed an assistant priest at St Benedict’s in 1861 in place of Fr O’Neill. In later years he was known as Dean Dwyer. He died in April 1884. His obituary in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ (1 May 1884) gave some interesting biographical details about Fr Dwyer:
‘Dean Dwyer, O.S.B. died in April. He was a native of Sydney, and was one of the first priests ordained in the colony by Archbishop Polding. Entering the Benedictine Monastery at St. Mary’s when very young, Dean Dwyer was ordained in 1850, after which he officiated for many years at St. Mary’s and St. Benedict’s. For a considerable period the Dean occupied the post of Prefect of Studies, and afterwards of President, at the Lyndhurst College, to which institution be remained attached till Archbishop Vaughan closed it some six years ago. On leaving Lyndhurst, Dean Dwyer was appointed to the charge of Five Dock, with the neighbouring Rosebank Convent, and there he remained up to the time of his death. The deceased had been suffering nearly all his life from sciatica and rheumatism, yet be was one of the most active and popular Roman Catholic priests in the archdiocese of Sydney.’

The date given in this obituary for Fr Dwyer’s ordination is incorrect. He was ordained to the diaconate on the 10th July 1857, the Feast of St Peter and Paul, with Fr Curtis, who was ordained a priest at that time.

The crayon portrait here reproduced was done by the colonial artist Richard Noble in 1864. On the reverse is some further biographical information about Fr Dwyer: ‘Crayon by R. Noble, artist, Sydney 1864, of the Very Rev. Dean Michael John Dwyer, O.S.B. (familiarly known as Father John). He was the son of Dwyer of Bungendore, N.S.W. and grandson of the celebrated patriot of 1798, Michael Dwyer of the Glen. The latter was buried in the old R. C. Cemetery, Devonshire Street, Sydney. This notice is written by I. G. O’Connor, Newcastle, N.S. Wales, a great personal friend of Father Johns, and this crayon was executed to his (I. G. O’C’s) order by Noble.’

Fr John ministered at St Benedict’s in various capacities from the early 1860s until at least 1877. When he died he was interred at the cemetery at Petersham, his body being later transferred to Rookwood Cemetery.

Fr James Byrne osb 1873

Dean Patrick Slattery 1875–78

Dean Edward O’Brien 1878–87

Dean O’Brien was in charge of St Benedict’s in the foundation days of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan in the parish

Monsignor C. L. Coonan (Administrator) 1888–89

+ Bishop Joseph Higgins 1890–1899

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Bishop Joseph Higgins

Fr John Robinson (Administrator) 1889–91

Fr Francis Timoney cp (Administrator) 1892–96

Fr John Carroll (Administrator) 1897–1903

Fr Carroll left St Benedict’s when he was appointed the second Bishop of Lismore

+ Archbishop Michael Kelly 1902–11

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Archbishop Michael Kelly

Fr James Furlong (Administrator) 1903–09

Fr John Byrne (Administrator) 1910–12

Fr Thomas Barry (Administrator) 1913–19

Fr John Halpin (Administrator) 1920–26

+ Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Sheehan 1923–35

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Archbishop Michael Sheehan

Fr John Muirhead (Administrator) 1927–32

Cyril B. Callaghan (Administrator) 1932–35

Monsignor John Norris 1935–50 [During the 1940s Mosignor Norris was assisted by Fathers John Madden, P. H. Fanning, M. Weatherall, J. Keenan, E. J. Corbin and Cyril Hatton]

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Monsignor Norris Catholic Church Chronicle, vol. 14, no. 31, November 1935, cover.

Fr Patrick Landers (Administrator) May 1949-February 1951 [Fr Landers left the parish when he went abroad for 12 months in 1951]

Fr John Roche February 1951-67 [Fr Roche was initially transferred as parish administrator from St Mary’s Cathedral. It is announced that on 31 January 1966 the newly ordained Fr Charles Bowers will be officialy appointed as the assistant parish priest in place of Fr Wiliams. Fr Stephens is instead appointed as assistant]

Fr William Malone (Administrator) July 1955-56 [when Fr Roche was serving as chaplain aboard the R. N. aircraft carrierVengeance]

+ Bishop William Murray 1967–72 [William Murray was first appointed Assistant Priest in the parish in June 1960]

Fr Terence Purcell 1973–2005 [Fr Purcell had served in the parish as an assistant priest from January 1957 along with Father, later Bishop David Cremin]

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Fr Terence Purcell (1922–2006) celebrates his last Mass at St Benedict’s

Fr John Neill OP, 1 March 2005 – 1 March 2009

Fr John Neill (2005-2009)

Fr John Neill (2005-2009)

Fr Michael de Stoop 2009–2015

Fr Epeli Qimaqima (Administrator) 2015 –