Timeline – St John The Baptist Parish Ferntree Gully

The first fifty years

1890 Local Catholics build a small wooden church on Main Road (site is now Woolworth Service Station, Burwood Highway) on land given by early settler Michael Buckley. Priests come from Dandenong parish to celebrate Mass twice a month.

 

1911 Parish of St John the Baptist established. Fr Lynch, first parish priest.

 

1912 Parishioners build a house for the priest , now Fr T O’Sullivan, next to the church.

 

1914-18 First World War. For the next ten years Fr O’Sullivan, then Fr J O’Brien, travel from the Gully throughout the hills often saying Mass in private homes.

 

1920-25 A time of building: a church-hall in Belgrave; a church in Gembrook. Fr T Little parish priest.

 

1925 Miss Buckley donates to the parish 5 acres of land in Forest Road.

 

1926 a new red brick church is built on the site of the present church. Fr T McCarthy parish priest.

 

1936 Grand Opening, all in one day, of a new presbytery, and a three-bedroom convent for Presentation nuns. School begins with 37 pupils. The original wooden church is moved to Forest Road to become classrooms.

 

1939-45 Second World War. Fr T Flynn appointed assistant priest, then ad- ministrator, when Fr McCarthy seconded to Military Forces.

 

1944 Fr Flynn becomes parish priest. Fr F Harman appointed assistant.

 

First school bus purchased to bring children from the hills. School enrolments 220. Brenock Park land acquired. Second assistant priest, Fr G O’Callaghan appointed.

 

1945 First Brenock Park Easter Monday Carnival.

 

1946 Army Hut purchased for classrooms. School now 300.

 

1948 Fr O’Callaghan replaced by Fr J Phelan. Miss Buckley dies leaving legacy to convent and parish.

 

1949-50 Opening of Our Lady of Lourdes school Bayswater. Now 13 Mass Centres in the Gully parish and 500 pupils in St John’s school. Youth theatre group musicals begin.

 

1954 Fr K Quinlan replaces Fr Phelan. Formation of St John’s Scout Troup

 

1956 Male choir established. Fr F Casamento replaces Fr F Harman.

 

1957-8 New classrooms built on Selman Ave on land donated by Albert Boyd.

1959 New parish formed for Belgrave and the ranges.

 

1960 Fr A Sheehan replaces Fr K Quinlan. First Planned Giving campaign allows parish to budget for future spending.

 

The second fifty years

1962-5 Second Vatican Council held in Rome
1960s Sees many changes of priests and more building: of classrooms and a new hall, toilets and sealed car park. Parishes founded from St John’s in this decade include Belgrave, Bayswater, and Boronia

 

1963-4 Establishment of Mater Christi and St Joseph’s Colleges.

 

1969 The implentation of Vatican Two begins with changes to liturgical services. Mass is now celebrated in English. New classrooms are built below the convent and old army hut removed. Fr C Cummings parish priest.

 

1970s see further familiarisation with post Vatican Two changes with attempts to form a Parish Council and renovations to St John’s church; a new parish is set up in Scoresby.

 

1979 Fr William (Bill) Bainbridge is appointed parish priest and begins a 18-year term that sees much of parish life and buildings transformed.

 

1982 First Mass celebrated in new church on 24 June. The first Parish Council is established. Priests’ housekeeper Nell O’Connor dies and ‘Nell’s Cottage’ becomes a centre for women’s activities. Other new parish groups: Renew Movement, Family Groups, Neighbourhood Groups.

 

1993 Another year of changes. Presentation Sisters relinquish the running of the school after 56 years. Sr Una Melville, the last sister to be school principal, moves from the convent to Nell’s Cottage as a Pastoral Assistant. Nell’s Cottage Group moves to the Flynn Centre (demountable rooms). The convent is leased to the Catholic Education Office as a regional centre. The last assistant priest, Fr J Petrulis is appointed elsewhere, leaving St John’s with one priest only. Fr Eugene Fernandez C.Ss.R. assisted  in a part time capacity. 

Land on Selman Avenue is purchased from Telstra. The old exchange building is renovated as a parish centre and named the Presentation Centre in hon- our of the Sisters.

 

2000 Fr Des Moloney appointed Parish Priest.

 

2005 Fr Alan Fox is appointed Parish Priest

 

2008 Convent building becomes a Parish Centre and office.

 

2011 Centenary year and 75th Anniversry of St John’s school. New school hall completed and surroundings refurbished as part of Federal funding initiative.

 

2019 Extensive school renovations and refurbishments completed.

 

2019 Fr. Thomas Kuruvilla appointed Parish Administrator.