Our First Church
The Parish of St Michael, Lane Cove, was founded in 1922. Prior to this date, the region originally belonged to the Jesuit Parish of St Mary's, North Sydney. The nearest Church in the district would have been the chapel of Saint Ignatius' College, Riverview.
A church site was purchased by Fr Michael Sherin for £350, on the corner of Dorritt and Little Streets, and a small Church was then built for £850. The opening of our first Church, known for the past eighty years as the Parish (Dorritt St) Hall, was blessed and opened as the Church of St Michael Longueville on 24th August 1919.
That the Church and eventually the Parish of Lane Cove when it was formed were dedicated to St Michael, was due to the happy coincidence that the priest's name was Michael Sherin, the builder's name was Michael Breen, and the Archbishop's name was Michael Kelly (the decision was the Archbishop's!).
The Catholic Press of 28th August 1919 commented: "Father Sherin has been successful in securing an elevated sight on the main road, a few yards form the Longueville tram terminus. Houses are being erected on all sides and there is every indication that, at no distant period, St Michael's will be the centre of a flourishing suburb." Fr Sherin's prediction proved to be right as between 1919 and 1924 the population of the Lane Cove municipality doubled and the little church was crowded to overflowing.
Father Hugh McGuire became the first Parish Priest of the new Parish of St Michael, Lane Cove in 1922. He held this position until his death in 1977 - 55 years! This great priest is and always will be synonymous with the parish of St Michael, Lane Cove.
On the 5th November 1922 Fr McGuire announced that "The Jesuit Fathers from Riverview have kindly consented to supply Mass at a quarter to eight." which marked the beginning of a long and happy association between the Parish and the Jesuit Fathers, which has continued to this day.
The Second Church
The second Church at the Lane Cove parish was opened on 26th September, 1926 at a cost of £6650. The Catholic Press of 30th September, 1926 describes the church - "The new edifice, which is handsomely designed in the Byzantine style of architecture, stands on a commanding site, from which a great portion of the northern suburbs may be viewed. It has seating accommodation for a congregation of 650 and its erection has permitted the old church, which has long failed to meet the needs of the growing district, being used as a school."
The Presbytery was built next to the Church, and opened by Cardinal Gilroy on the 31st August 1941. The land was purchased for £1550, and the presbytery was built at a cost of £3400. In 2002, the Presbytery was re-furbished with the Parish Office located on the ground floor, and the private residence for the Parish Priest on the first floor.
Foundation stones of both the first and second St Michael's were called St Michael's, Longueville. In a carefully kept Cash Book which goes back to 1922, the address of St Michael's appears as Longueville for the last time on 6th July 1930, and quite suddenly appears as Lane Cove from the 13th July and thereafter.
The Existing Church
In 1975, Fr John Dougherty advised the following in the Parish Notices:
"St Michael's Church, here, built 1925 - 1926, is structurally sound, and dominated by a tower and false façade, admittedly monumental. It provides seating, on the floor, for 400. However, this fabric, incomplete at building, is too small for our congregation. In this parish, with an estimated Catholic population of 8000, we need, in a becoming parish church, comfortable accommodation for over 600. Besides, after fifty years of use, the sanctuary - sacristy complex, built in weatherboard, is decrepit...This proposal to demolish and replace St Michael's, with the active advocacy of Bishop Muldoon, was approved by Cardinal Freeman."
The 10:00 Mass on the first Sunday of 1976 was the last Mass to be offered in the old Church. A large crowd joined the procession of the Most Blessed Sacrament from the Church to the Dorritt St Hall which was to serve once more as the Parish Church until the new one was built. Mass was also said at the Lane Cove Town Hall.
The existing Church was built by F.C. Zadro Pty Ltd of Castle Hill. The contract price was $324,898 which did not include furniture, floor coverings, landscaping etc.
The Church was opened on the 19th December 1976 by Cardinal Freeman.
The following have served as Parish Priests of St Michael's:
1922 - 1977 Mons Hugh McGuire
1978 - 1990 Fr John Farrar
1990 - 1992 Fr William Dougherty
1992 - 1999 Fr Lester Cashen
1999 - 2003 Fr Don Willoughby
2003 - 2011 Fr Martin Maunsell
Fr Geoffrey Plant
Our Lady of Dolours Church at Greenwich was built by the Jesuits in 1902.
There was a convent school in Greenwich for a decade or so before there was one at Lane Cove, which closed in 1921. On the 12th December 1954, a new school alongside the old Church of Our Lady of Dolours was opened and operated by the Sisters of St Joseph. In 1965 the school was staffed by the Sisters of Mercy from Lane Cove but was closed down in 1973 due to lack of numbers.
The new church of Our Lady of Dolours was opened and blessed on the 17th September 1961 by Bishop Freeman. The new church was designed to accommodate 350 people, whereas the old one could seat only 120.
In 2003, a new chapel called Mary Help of Christians was built on this site as the centrepiece of a retirement facility. Clancy Terrace is a 24 self care unit complex for the over 55s, which is professionally managed and provides a comfortable and relaxed lifestyle in a well maintained and secure environment. Social interaction, medical support and a variety of community activities are readily available for those who wish to participate.
Pengilly St Church
In 1958 Mons McGuire announced that a new church-school was to be built in the Parish at south Lane Cove. The Pengilly St Church was opened on the 2nd August 1959 by Cardinal Gilroy, accompanied by a cadet unit guard of honour and band from St Ignatius' College, Riverview.
St Michael's School
In 1928 the Sisters of Mercy at Monte Sant' Angelo, North Sydney, were given approval to purchase the property on the corner of Alpha Rd and Longueville Rd with a view to establishing a convent and to build a new school.
In 1932, two small rooms were added to the back verandah to form a "High School". At the same time, the Dorritt St school continued to function as a separate unit; the pupils even wore different uniforms! The 'Highs" paid two shillings a week, and the "Lows" paid sixpence.
In 1950 the Parish purchased the convent school in Longueville Rd from the Sisters of Mercy, and a Florin collection was established in aid of the new and larger school. In March 1975 the purchase of 175 Longueville Rd provided a much needed Arts and Craft Centre for the School.
In 1998, six new classrooms were built on the old convent site. In 2004 the property at 179 Longueville was purchased and demolished to make way for new building works, and future playground space. In 2006 four new classrooms were added, the library and administration areas were re-located, and demolition of the old classroom Block B at the back of the school. In 2011 a multi-purpose hall was completed. The school currently has around 560 students enrolled.
On the 4th August 2011a new multifunction centre called the Monsignor Hugh McGuire Centre, was officially opened as a result of the Australian Government's Nation Building Economic Stimlus Plan.
Bibliography: Cloran, Fergus. Make This Your Home! A Chronicle of St Michael's Parish, Lane Cove, 1922 - 1976. Sydney: St Michaels Church, 1976.