A church is more than a structure of bricks and mortar however attractive, functional and ideally situated. It is a faith-filled community and the history of the brick church and early parishioners of Holy Family of Nazareth Parish, Lindfield are inextricably entwined.
Lindfield is set in one of the most attractive areas of the North Shore Reserves of bushland, tree lined streets and attractive gardens with residents having easy access to the Lane Cove River and parks for picnics and sport make it an almost ideal place in which to live. But during the district’s early establishment in the nineteenth century conditions were far from easy.
The first to live and work in the area were loggers who, together with convicts, began clearing the bushland. In 1812 the government of the day offered grants of land to settlers willing to clear the area for farming. Immigrants and released convicts applied and were given blocks of land. Fruit orchards and market gardens became a feature of the district and the small number of residents included ten Catholic families. The closest church for worship was at Pymble and each Sunday a small bus, seating about a dozen passengers, took people to Pymble for the Eucharist, the driver waiting for the service to finish then returning his passengers to Lindfield.
The population increased and the Catholics wanted their own place of worship. Land was acquired on the corner of Highfield Street and Pacific Highway – then Gordon Street - and a contract was drawn up for construction of a church-school costing £2417, a daunting sum for people with meagre resources and incomes. There were no government grants at the time and the money was raised in typical Catholic fashion: bazaars, house parties, raffles, a Ball and donations.
The church was built and blessed as Holy Family of Nazareth church in 1927, under the jurisdiction of the Pymble Parish. A priest came from Pymble to celebrate the Eucharist and tend the spiritual needs of the people. The church doubled as a school and during the week the sanctuary was closed off with a heavy dark red curtain and on Fridays, furniture and equipment were moved and the building prepared for Sunday Eucharist.
Pressure began to increase to establish a separate parish and in 1938 Holy Family of Nazareth Parish was established with Fr Maurice Downey as first parish priest. An old building, once a coach house sited on the corner of Highfield St and Pacific Highway, where a modern block of units now stands, was bought and renovated as a presbytery with a room for a parish office. A school building was erected in the same grounds.
In 1968 Fr F Meechan followed Fr Downey as Parish Priest.
With the opening of the railway line in 1890 and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 the population increased and a larger church became necessary. Shortly before the war the church/school was demolished and the present structure built, with school rooms at the back and above the choir, and a kindergarten beneath the church. The cost was £8,000, and the money raised was by people mostly on wages of £4 a week. In 1966 a new presbytery was constructed and in 1972 the nave of the church was extended towards the highway.
In 1986 the Archdiocese of Sydney underwent subdivision and the Lindfield Parish became part of the new diocese of Broken Bay. No.10 Highfield Road was bought and the parish priest, moved there from the noisy building on the Highway. The office too was now located in the newly established presbytery.
In 1992 an impressive new school and hall were erected adjacent to the church and renovations made to the church, including refurbishing the room beneath it as a parish meeting room. School rooms above the church are now vacant and plans are under way for renovation.
Priests: 1938: Fr M. Downey, 1956: Fr J. Purcell, 1968: Fr. F Meecham, 1984: Fr W. Aliprandi, 1987: Fr T. Johns, 2008: Fr J Wakeling.
Present Parish Priest: Fr. Colin Blayney
Assistant Priest: Fr. Stephen Hamilton
Presbytery: 10 Highfield Road, Lindfield, NSW 2070
Office: 388 Pacific Highway, Lindfield, NSW 2070