Murringo, NSW - Sacred Heart Catholic (10264)

Year Built: 1874 - 1877

Denomination: Roman Catholic

Address: Boreham Street, Murringo, New South Wales, 2586

Last Updated: 26/01/2021

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History and Architecture:

The Church is part of a group of buildings built by the Catholic Church in Murringo (previously Marengo) between the 1870s and 1930 to serve the local Catholic community in their faith and schooling. They included a church (opened in 1877), Convent (opened in 1917) and school (opened in 1930). The Convent and school were sold by the Catholic Church in 1974, but the church remains operational, having occasional weddings, baptisms, funerals and other events, but no regular services.

The origin of the construction of the Catholic Church was a public meeting held in Michael O’Connor’s hotel in Marengo in July 1871. This initiated fund-raising activities for the building of the church.  

A foundation stone was laid by the Right Reverend Dr Lanigan, Bishop of Goulburn on Friday, 4 December 1874. Local District Priests Rev. J. Dunne and Rev William McGrath, as were Rev P Riordan (St. Mary’s Sydney), Rev A.T. O’Dwyer (Yass) and Rev D. O’Dwyer (Young). The stone to build the church was sourced from the Bland Station (Bland is around 105km from Murringo), with teams of local volunteers from the region hauling the stone to Murringo.  Credit for construction was given to Mr J O’Connor of Grenfell, with the cedar altar by Mr Millard of Marengo.  The stone masons were the Cranston Bros. and Samuel Knightly did the carpentry and joiner’s work.  

The Church was officially opened on 15 July 1877 by the Right Reverend Dr Lanigan, Bishop of Goulburn. Also present were the Very Rev. P Bermingham of Wagga and local Burrowa (now Boorowa) priests Revs J. Dunne and W. Long. It was 47 feet (14.3m) long, 25 feet (7.6m) wide and 16 feet (4.9m) high from the base course and could seat 300 people.

By the early 1900s the Church was becoming too small for the growing congregation. On Sunday 21 July 1907, following a further fund-raising drive, new additions to the Church were officially opened. The additions included a 12 feet by 24 feet (3.7m x 7.3m) extension to the church, which included a gallery for the choir, as well as an entrance porch, two side altars and a pulpit. The Right Rev. Dr. Gallagher, Bishop of Goulburn, attended the opening along with Rev Andrew, CP, Rev McGurk, and Rev. Sheehan.  The additions cost around £400.  The plans for the extension were prepared by an architect, Mr Copeland, from Bathurst and the builder was Mr Blackett. Father Leahy, Parish Priest of Koorawatha was the key proponent for the extension with the support of Father Sheehan (who replaced Father Leahy).  Sand for the mortar for the extension came from the local Marengo Creek.

In 1911, Father Fogarty convened a meeting to support plans to build a convent next door to the Church.  Fund raising commenced immediately. A foundation stone for the Convent was laid by His Lordship Dr. Gallagher, Bishop of Goulburn on 1 September 1912 (the whereabouts of this foundation stone is not known). He was assisted by Very Reverend Father Hennessy, Parish Priest of Young as well as Father E Hennessy (Burrowa – now Boorowa) (who had replaced Father Fogarty). The Convent was designed by William John Monks (known as Bill or Billy) (1869-1943).  William Monks worked as an architect in country NSW for more than 40 years, designing many building in the Federation style. The builder was David Larcombe (mis-spelt as Larkin in the attached reference). During construction, a foundation stone was blessed and laid in the building on 28 November 1915 by His Lordship Dr. Gallagher, Bishop of Goulburn. He was assisted by Reverend Father Edmund Sheehan, Rector (Boorowa). Mother Gabrielle Campbell attended the ceremony.  This stone can still be seen on the front of the building today.

The official opening day was on 25 February 1917.  The ceremony was performed by his Lordship Dr Gallagher, with Rev. Father Slattery, Diocesan Inspector of Schools also preaching.

On Saturday 3 February 1917, the Sisters of Mercy nuns arrived from Goulburn to take up residency and teaching responsibilities. The nuns included Mother Mary Bonaventure Macguire (first community leader) and Mother M. Gabriel Mistress of Method (who only stayed a few days).     Forty-eight pupils, over half of the students from Marengo (now Murringo) Public School, transferred to the new Convent school in 1917. With growth in student numbers, a new schoolhouse was built on the land next door. On 5 May 1929, a foundation stone for the new building was laid by the Right Rev. J Barry, Bishop of Goulburn, in the presence of Rev E. Sheehan, Parish Priest.  The school was officially opened in February 1930 by the Right Rev. Dr. Barry. School classes moved there. The Convent remained a residence for the nuns.  

The school was closed in 1961 due to a shortage of Sisters and the availability of a bus service to take students to nearby larger towns. It was more than a decade after this that the Convent and School buildings became private residences when they were sold by the Church in 1974.

Clergy:

This list may not contain every serving cleric, past or present, for this church.
Further submissions welcomed.

Years Name Annotation D.o.B D.o.D
1948 - Father Paul William Malony

Organ:

No information currently available. Submissions welcomed.

Contributions:

1. With permission, Paul Morris 2021. Content derived from various sources including TROVE, Marengo News, NSW Department of Environment and Heritage, Ray Christison, publications of the Sisters of Mercy Sydney and the Organising Committee for 150 Years of Education in Murringo. For a full list of references please contact Australian Christian Church Histories.