Parish History

A Short History of the Parish of St Mary of the Immaculate Conception


St Mary's Catholic Church, Ascot Vale

St Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Ascot Vale

  • 1895: Moonee Ponds Parish was established and a small wooden church in gothic style was erected in St Leonards Rd, Ascot Vale, to relieve the pressure upon the Essendon district.
  • 1912: Ascot Vale becomes a parish and Fr A. May is appointed as first Parish Priest and takes up residence in the temporary presbytery at 123 St Leonards Rd.
  • 1913: Archbishop Carr opens new school, presbytery and renovated church on 23 February.
  • 1916: Foundation stone of new brick presbytery laid by Archbishop Carr on 16 July.
  • 1917: New hall acquired in St Leonards Rd.
  • 1919: Fr Bakker takes over from Fr May as Parish Priest.
  • 1924: Guild Room erected as Men’s Club.
  • 1927: Sisters of Our Lady of Sion arrive to take over St Mary’s School from the Sisters of Mercy. Convent opened and blessed by Archbishop Mannix.
  • 1932: The Legion of Mary, brought to Australia by Fr Bakker, holds its first meeting in Australia (and Oceania) at St Mary’s.
  • 1934: Foundation stone of new church laid by Archbishop Mannix on 1 July.
  • 1938: Brick Romanesque church completed, and opened by Archbishop Mannix on 15 May.
  • 1945: First Mass offered in Maribyrnong in the Public Hall.
  • 1947: Land for St Margaret’s Church purchased.
  • 1949: St Margaret’s Church building purchased from Broadmeadows Army Camp and sited on the land.
  • 1950: Fr Bakker dies aged 81, and is buried in a grave in the shadow of the church he built. Fr P. J. O’Doherty becomes Parish Priest.
  • 1957: Junior School opened at St Margaret’s.
  • 1962: Temporary church completed at Avondale Heights; Mass is provided by priests of Ascot Vale.
  • 1963: Sacrificial Giving introduced.
  • 1966: Gymnasium opened in guild hall.
  • 1968: Fr J. O’Shea introduced Mass facing the people and the original wooden altar was painted to match the marble high altar and placed on refurbished and carpeted platform.
  • 1973: New convent built on the site of the old Guild Hall, with the sisters moving in in 1974. Old convent in Roseberry St demolished.
  • 1975: New altar and lectern purchased by Fr Tom Jones and carpeted platform extended.
  • 1976: Fire destroyed Old Hall.
  • 1977: New Hall built on site of old convent.
  • 1982: Fr Sam Dimattina becomes Parish Priest.
  • 1988: St Margaret’s School is renovated and refurbished.
  • 1993: St Mary’s School completely renovated, painted and refurbished.
  • 1999: Monsignor Aldo Rebeschini becomes Parish Priest.
  • 2002: After a time as Administrator, Fr Jim Clarke becomes Parish Priest.
  • 2005: New main altar for St Mary’s installed.
  • 2006: Sound system upgraded and ceiling painted at St Mary’s.
  • 2008: New carpet and restoration of kneelers at St Mary’s.
  • 2010: Fr Justin Ford becomes Parish Priest. New hall and classrooms at St Mary’s; new Meeting Area and classrooms at St Margaret’s.
  • 2011: New extended playground at St Mary’s. Reorientation of sanctuary and pews at St Margaret’s.
  • 2012: New organ at St Mary’s.
  • 2013: Redevelopment commences at St Mary’s School.
  • 2014: Painting, new carpet at St Margaret’s. Parish website launched.
  • 2015: Redevelopment of St Mary’s School completed. Opening of MacKillop Building, St Margaret’s School.
  • 2016: Promulgation of Preservation Church Account to support St Mary’s Church.