Furnishing the New Church

Fr Cunningham had the high altar built. In the parish at that time lived a German family named Schimel. James Schimel was a wood carver and he built and carved the woodwork in from of the gallery. The oldest piece of furniture is the credence table which bears the inscription: "Presented by James Schimel, 15th July 1861."

A reported dated 27th December 1877, Fr Cunningham states: "to take the people on the whole, they are really good and religious. They are poor. Their greatest faults are those which so often are to be found where worldly respectability is absent: intemperance and the neglect of parental supervision. Even these are confined to perhaps as almost limited a number as in other suburbs of Sydney. They are however the faults and failings which most loudly call for the exercise of the Church's healing influence."

Fr Cunningham was replaced by Fr J. J. Carroll in 1878.

Fr Plaid Quirk OSB arrived in 1881. Fr Quirk was Sydney born, a Benedictine and received a Master of Arts from Sydney University. He remained for less than a year due to failing health. He was responsible for the installation of gas lighting in the church.

Fr Collins, later Monsignor, arrived in 1882. He remained until 1926. Shortly after arriving, he arranged for the Sisters of Mercy (North Sydney) to take charge of the "Roman Catholic School at the Waterloo Estate". [1] A new Presbytery was built (the current one) and the sisters moved into the old and enlarged one as their convent in 1885. Until then they lived in a rented terrace house in Wellington St.

Up until 1883 the school catered for all children and was run by lay staff. With the arrival of the sisters, the school was divided into two sections. The sister took charge of the girls and a lay staff continued to teach the boys until the arrival of the Patrician Brothers in 1886.

In 1885 Fr Collins began the building of a school at Redfern and St Vincent's Church was opened the same year and serviced from Waterloo. An assistant priest, Fr Long, was appointed to Waterloo. The same year, Archbishop Moran was called to Rome to receive the red hat of a cardinal and Fr Collins accompanied him as secretary. Pope Leo XIII presented to Mgr Collins a beautiful painting of Our Lady of Mount Carmel which was hung in the church. Sadly, it was destroyed in the fire of 1956.

Land and building were purchased in Roseberry which became the basis of the current parish. The Sisters of Mercy conducted the school and walked daily to and from their convent at Waterloo.

The current Presbytery was opened by Cardinal Moran on 4th October 1890. It consisted of 14 rooms: five bedrooms, library, office dining and sitting rooms with a wide varandah and balcony.[2]

A Girl's High School was opened in 1890 (the current Eileen O'Connor Hall) and extensions to the convent to cater for the additional sisters needed to run the new school. The convent could accommodate up to 17 sisters.

In 1890, St Vincent's Redfern became a separate parish under the care of Fr Tuckwell. This meant that the Patrician Brothers' school was cut off from Waterloo but a new Boys School, also operated by the Patrician Brothers, was built in 1908 (the current Patrician Brothers Building).

The Parish's Golden Jubilee was celebrated on 15th August 1909. The Catholic Press had this to say: "For 50 years the doors of the Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel have been open and many a sad spirit and many an aching heart have sought consolation in the sacred shrine. Much the joy, too, have been found within the holy walls.... It crowned that hill where there were nought but scrub and sand on its barren slopes; it has looked down on the growth of the district from a few scattered houses on the level ground below, until today... Half a century ago there were but a dozen Catholic families in the neighbourhood, now the parochial register contains the names of between 3,000 and 4,000 parishioners.[3]

Cardinal Moran said as part of his speech after the Golden Jubilee Luncheon: "I am told that Fr Collins was thinking of getting a small railway to bring the people up to the church[4], but as the efficiency of the aeroplane is developing so rapidly, who knows he will not bring his people to this height in airships. It is a beautiful name, 'Our Lady of Mt. Carmel', that our predecessors of fifty years ago gave to this shrine and the spirit of piety which characterises the Mount Carmel of old characterises this Mount Carmel in new Australia."

Fr Collins was appointed Monsignor and Archpriest in 1916 and celebrated his Golden Jubilee of Ordination on 28th June 1923. He died in 26th June 1926. He was buried in the Priests' Section of Rookwood Cemetery. His headstone was inscribed with:

"Sacred to the memory of Rt. Rev. Mgr. Joseph Collins PP, Archpriest.

Born at Larch, County Derry, Ireland. Died on 25th day of June 1926, in the 79th year of his age and the 53rd of his priesthood, being 44 years pastor of Mount Carmel Waterloo


Fr Brian McDonnell, a native of County Kerry, was appointed as the next Parish Priest. Shortly after his arrival he began the building of St Joseph's Church Rosebery. The foundation stone was laid on 3rd August 1927.

Archpriest McDonnell died on12th September 1932. Father Joseph Bowers was appointed as parish priest and stayed for nine years. He was followed by Fr John Kissane in 1941. In 1949, the District of Rosebery became a parish in its own right. Fr Kissane undertook extensive renovations of the school. He resigned due to ill health in1957 and Fr William Malone was appointed as Parish Priest.

[1] The report of the Denominational School Board 1858

[2] From description published in the Freeman's Journal of 28th September 1890

[3] Catholic Press of 19th August 1909

[4] My inclusion in italics