Parish History

A Short History of Ss. Peter & Paul Parish

Fr. John Spillane came to the Parish of Doncaster East at the beginning of 1960. The Parish was a huge area for one priest to cover. Initially he was a guest of Fr. Ryan at Blackburn. In 1964 he was able to settle into 51 Ross Street.

Fr Spillane had organised five weekly Masses: Doncaster East (two), Bulleen (two) and Templestowe (one). This was done with the help of the Blessed Sacrament and Carmelite Fathers. Schools were opened at Ss. Peter & Paul’s in 1959, St Clement’s Bulleen in 1963 and at St. Gregory’s in 1967.

Ss. Peter & Paul’s began with four classrooms along Beverely Street which were converted on Friday nights to the Parish Church and returned to a school on Sunday evenings.

In 1964 the first Finance Committee made a decision to duplicate the size of the school when the enrolment reached 220. The Parish Credit Co-operative was founded and discussions began about the formation of a Tennis Club.

To increase the envelope giving, the Finance Committee ran two fund raising campaigns.

Fr. Spillane oversaw the growth of the Parish from a small community to one of the largest Parishes in the Archdiocese by the beginning of the 1970’s. By 1967, 1300 people were attending weekly Mass at St Peter & Paul’s.

New Parishes had been established in Bulleen 1963 and Templestowe 1971. St Gregory’s Doncaster was made a separate Parish in 1967, the School having opened with two classrooms at St. Peter & Paul’s. The first of the annual dinners was held at Whitefriars and the Tennis Club won its first pennant. In 1968 the first edition of “Aspect” ,the Parish magazine was published. In 1969 the Parish Council was formed. In 1970 the Parish Church was opened. Fr. Spillane was transferred to West Brunswick.

The new Parish Priest, Fr, Patrick Fitzpatrick arrived in May 1971 with the first assistant priest, Fr Michael Wilson.

Over the next nine years Father Fitzpatrick found himself continually involved in providing new buildings including a new presbytery and thirteen classrooms. A second school was started in the Donvale area. Father Michael Wilson was in the parish barely twelve months when he was transferred.

One of the most prominent parish organisations was the Parish Auxiliary which provided a wide range of activities and raised money for parish purposes. Another organisation the Tennis Club.

By 1975 the Parish was supporting three priests, Fr. Fitzpatrick, Fr. Gerry McKernan and Fr. Mark Coleridge. Other priests serving during the seventies included Frs. Brian James, Kevin Holian, Gerry Spillane and Robert Cannon. There were over 900 children in the parish school. The Drop In Centre was commenced and still flourishes today. In July 1980 Fr. Fitzpatrick was transferred to Essendon.

Fr. Tony Hally came to Ss. Peter & Paul’s in July 1980. His first impression was of a very large attendance over several Masses celebrated each weekend at Ss. Peter & Paul’s and at Our Lady of the Pines school. While the Catholic population of the area around Ss. Peter & Paul’s Parish East Doncaster stabilised during the 1980’s, it grew rapidly in the Donvale area. About 2000 people attended Mass each weekend in the parish.

The church had moved into a new area of practice following the Second Vatican Council. The signs of a diminishing number of priests to serve to community were seen and lay people were better trained and prepared to take a more active role in the local church. A further development was the growing interest in providing for the young people in the Parish. The Antioch group began around this time.

Our Lady of the Pines Parish started at Donvale in 1989, its first Parish Priest being Fr. Tony Hally. This was the last child of the East Doncaster Parish following the births of Bulleen, Templestowe and Doncaster. There was then only one priest at Ss. Peter and Paul’s Parish, whereas for a few years there had been three.

In the year 1989, the new Parish priest, Fr. John Dupuche arrived. He built a large Narthex on to the Church, which could be used for a range of activities. It has a sophisticated Baptismal Font with a fountain which can be turned on to quite some effect. In that year a visitation group was formed to assist the bereaved, the lonely and the sick.

One of the great events of 1989 and the following year was the holding of parish dinners, a meal held in the presbytery fortnightly for about eighteen months. An attempt was made to invite every known parishioner to one of these dinners. The cost was financed by Fr. Dupuche personally. A Conference at the St. Vincent de Paul Society was formed in 1990 and a Charismatic Prayer Group was commenced in that year. The Parish reluctantly farewelled Fr. John at the end of his seventh year as Parish Priest.

For complete history please see, 

Our ParishA History of the Ss. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Parish, Doncaster East, 1960 – 2010Barry Mernagh

, Ss. Peter & Paul’s Parish ASPECT Committee. ISBN 978-0-646-54810-4