Luddenham-Warragamba

History

Fr James Sheridan
Fr James Sheridan.

The Gundungurra tribe of Aborigines occupied the land of the present-day Warragamba parish prior to European settlement.

This particular tribe moved about the area of the Great Dividing Range from the Taralga/Wombeyan area to the O’Connell Plains, south of Bathurst.

William Russell (“Werriberri”) is significant in that he was the last king of the Gundungurra Tribe living in the Burrogorang Valley. He was born at Werriberri Creek, a tributary of the Warragamba River. He died in 1914.

The first recorded presence of the church in our parish was the block of land at Greendale, given to the Church in 1818 by Mr George Wentworth. In October 1848, 44 adults received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the timber church erected on the site.

The church was in regular use until about 1893. After this, it was only occasionally used and, in about 1930, the building was sold and was moved into Wallacia as part of a private home.

From 1848 until at least 1874, a Catholic school was in operation at this Greendale site. This was one of the first 21 Catholic schools established in NSW.

In 1892, Fr James Sheridan, Parish Priest of Penrith, built St Mary’s Mulgoa church on land given by Mr  Stephen. An adjoining block was purchased from Mr Dykes of “Winbourne” (presently the Edmund Rice Retreat Centre run by the Christian Brothers). Fr Sheridan recommended that the church bell from the Greendale church be hung in Mulgoa. This was done eventually, but unfortunately it was stolen in 1982 and never recovered.

After Mulgoa was consolidated in 1900, a new Catholic family formed in Luddenham. In 1912 St Francis Xavier’s church at Luddenham was built on land given by the Anschau family.

From 1934-1942, Sydney experienced a record drought. To augment the water supply essential for Sydney, the Water Board began a 50ft Weir at Warragamba in 1937. The present dam was officially opened in 1960. By 1951 the rise of the Water Board town and the increase in population saw the need for a new parish. This Parish became formally known as Warragamba in 1951 and included the churches of Mulgoa and Luddenham and those particular villages along with the villages of Wallacia, Greendale, Bringelly, Badgery’s Creek, and Silverdale – all in all, an area of more than 400 sq km.

On Sunday, 23rd November 1952, the Sacred Heart Church at Warragamba was blessed and officially opened by Bishop Lyons. Fr Thomas Everard was the first Parish Priest of Warragamba (1951-1953). It was Fr Everard who bought the present church at Warragamba. He paid 450 pounds to the Sydney Water Board for it. At that time (October 1952) the building was the Town Hall and then the Cinema of the old Warragamba Township located near the present-day Red Spot Petrol Station on Silverdale Rd. The cinema was transported in three sections and trucked to its present location where it was re-assembled in November 1952.

Fifty Year Celebrations took place in Warragamba Parish in 2001 in commemoration of the forming of the Parish in 1951. The second Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Kevin Manning DD, presided at the Mass with Fr Paul Marshall, our then Parish Priest, and Pastor Emeritus Fr John Evans at the church at Warragamba followed by a celebration of a meal with the Bishop, priests, Mayor of Wollondilly-Christine Towndrow and special guests. Frank McKay, one-time Mayor of Wollondilly Council, spoke on the occasion.

A more detailed chronicle of the history of the parish can be read in the book published in November 2002 coinciding with the arrival of the church in Warragamba 50 years before. This publication, called The Journey, is available from the Parish Office at Luddenham for $15.

Our current Parish Priest, Rev Giovani Presiga Gaviria, was appointed in 2015.

PARISH PRIESTS & Administrators

Rev Thomas Everard 1951-1953
Rev John Madden 1953-1956
Rev P Frost 1956-1965
Rev J Kelly 1965-1969
Rev F Roberts 1966
Rev John Evans 1969-1997
Rev Paul Marshal 1997-2007

Rev Zvonimir Gavranovic 2007-2015

Rev Giovani Presiga Gaviria 2015-present