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History of Pittwater Parish

 Pittwater Parish

Pittwater Parish began on July 1st 2007. The Parishes of Maria Regina Avalon and Sacred Heart Mona Vale had shared a Parish Priest from 1998 but had operated as two parishes for almost ten years. For much of that time, there was a single priest, with a pastoral assistant in each Parish.

Both Parishes were originally in the Diocese of Sydney, two of the founding Parishes of the new Diocese of Broken Bay when it was established in 1986 with the Most Reverend Patrick Murphy as its first Bishop. The Most Reverend David Walker succeeded Bishop Murphy in 1996 was the second Bishop of Broken Bay Diocese. He retired at the end of 2013.  Bishop Peter Comensoli, the third Bishop of Broken Bay was ordained in December 2014.

Father Rex Curry was  the first Parish Priest. Fr Satheesh Ramachanatt OSHAP who had been at Avalon since 2004 was the  first Assistant Priest, serving until until early 2008 when he returned to India. Bishop Bernard O'Grady OP retired as Bishop of Gizo, Solomon Islands,  and came to Avalon as Priest in Residence.

 Fr Rex finished his tenure as Parish Priest in October 2008 and at that time the Parish became a Salvatorian Parish with Father George Kolodziej SDS as Parish Priest. Father Zygmunt Smigowski SDS joined him as Assistant Priest in early 2009. After Father Zygmunt's election as Treasurer of the Salvatorian's Australian Province, he was called to the Order's Headquarters in Perth and Father Sebastian Szewczyk SDS took his place in January 2010 as Assistant Priest of Pittwater Parish.

After Father Sebastian's relocation to Canada in April 2013 Father Darius Basiaga SDS served the Parish during 2013, with Father Robert Masternak SDS taking his place in January 2014 then Father Bronek Pietrusewicz SDS from January 2016.


Priests of the Parish of Pittwater

Parish Priests

Fr Rex Curry              
Fr George Kolodziej SDS 2008-2019
Fr Bronek Pietrusewicz SDS 2019  

Priests in Residence and Assistant Priests

Bishop Bernard O'Grady OP 2008- Priest in Residence
Fr Zygmunt Smigowski SDS 2009-2010 Assistant Priest
Fr Sebastian Szewczyk SDS 2010-2013 Assistant Priest
  Fr Dariusz Basiaga SDS 2013- 2014 Assistant Priest
  Fr Robert Masternak SDS 2014-2016 Assistant Priest
  Fr Bronek Pietrusewicz SDS 2016-2019 Assistant Priest
  Fr Ryszard Sadowski SDS 2019 Assistant Priest

Pastoral Assistants

Sister Rosalinda Legisan fdz 2007-2008
Sister Matilde Chia fdz



 Avalon Parish History


The Catholic history of the Avalon area dates from 1833 when the pioneer priest Fr John Therry was granted 1200 acres of land at Pittwater, with 280 acres added four years later. This land covered the area south from Surf Road, Whale Beach to Attunga Road, Newport Beach. It extended from the sea through to Pittwater.

Father Therry himself probably had little chance to spend time in the area for some years. He was Parish Priest of Campbelltown (which stretched to Yass) from 1835 to 1838 when he was sent to Van Diemen's Land, returning permanently to New South Wales in 1856 when he was appointed to Balmain as Parish Priest. He died at Balmain in 1864. He left all his Avalon land to the Jesuits who sold it off in smaller lots.

For more details about Fr Therry's life go to: http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A020469b.htm

Original  Careel Bay Church, moved to Narrabeen
(from an original photo held at Maria Regina, Avalon)


A small wooden Church was built at Careel Bay, perhaps on the corner of the present Patrick and Joseph Streets, Avalon. The Church was dedicated to St Joseph and was made of pit-sawn timber slabs with a shingle roof.

This chapel was set up, probably in the 1870s, to serve the needs of those working on farms in the area, and for workers at the unsuccessful coal mine which Father Therry started near Bilgola Headland, including the site of the present Avalon golf course. In practice, Mass was rarely said in the Chapel as the area was sparsely populated, remote and isolated.


The old Avalon Church
Original Maria Regina Church-School


From 1876, Manly Parish was responsible for the Peninsula as far North as Palm Beach. In the 1885 Australasian Catholic Directory, Careel Bay was listed as an official Mass Centre within the parish of Manly. In 1889, a petition from several Catholics in the Barrenjoey area asked for a Priest to visit as there had been no Mass said in the District for over a year. About 1917 the old church was moved to Narrabeen where for many years it was used as Mass Centre and a hall until the construction of the Church school in 1939. It was demolished in the 1940s and the timbers taken to Port Macquarie to be used there.

In 1928 Dee Why Parish came into being. The need for a Catholic presence in the Northern part of the Peninsula was already acknowledged and in 1939 three blocks of land were bought in Tasman Road, Avalon. In 1946, Narrabeen Parish was set up to cater for the whole area with plans for five parishes to be established from that base. In 1950, the Tasman Road site was sold because it was no longer in the centre of Avalon's planned development, and the proceeds used to buy the land on Central Road for the current Church and School.