The Prospect Heritage Trust Inc.

St Brigid’s Church

The Foundation Stone of St Brigid’s was laid by Archdeacon John McEncroe on 19 July 1855.  Archbishop John Bede Polding opened St. Brigid’s Church on 27 July 1856.

At this time there were only five completed Catholic Churches in the inner Sydney area: St Mary’s at Hyde Park, St Patrick’s at Church Hill, St Brigid’s at The Rocks, St Benedict’s at Broadway and Sacred Heart at Darlinghurst.  Other completed churches were at Parramatta, Penrith, McDonald River, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Appin, Windsor and Kincumber.

St Brigid’s, which could accommodate approximately 100 people, was built of bricks on stone foundations, with sandstone buttress. The roof was made of shingles. The Sacristy was added to the Church in 1891. As the Church had no built-in confessional, the Sacristy was used for this purpose, and people wishing to take confession waited out in the paddock under the bell.

Fr. P.J. Carroll was in charge of St Brigid’s during 1881 and 1882.

St. Brigid’s remained an out-church of the Parramatta parish until 1885 when Fr. Patrick Augustine Holland was appointed as the first Parish Priest of Prospect. Fr. Holland also took charge of St Michael’s Baulkham Hills, St. Gertrude’s Smithfield and the iron Catholic Mission Church at the Reservoir (known as The Waterworks Church).

In 1888 Fr. Holland was transferred to Liverpool and Monsignor John Rigney took over the post of Parish Priest of Prospect. He remained at Prospect until his death on 9 May, 1903.

At this time the Prospect and Blacktown churches came under the administration of the Parramatta Parish, from which a Priest travelled out each Sunday to celebrate Mass, one week at Prospect, the next week at Blacktown.

In 1904 Florence and Edward Cooney became caretakers of St Brigid’s Church and, with their nine children, lived in the Presbytery at Prospect. In 1914 the Cooney family left the Presbytery and moved into the former Royal Cricketer’s Arms Inn, on the corner of Flushcombe Rd and the Great Western Highway, where they operated a shop.

In 1910 Fr. John Moriarty became Parish Priest of Prospect and Blacktown, as well as Chaplain of St Vincent’s Boys Home at Westmead, where he lived. After Fr. Moriarty’s death in 1919 Priests again tended St. Brigid’s from the Parramatta Parish.

In November 1946, the Parish of Blacktown was created, with Fr. Bernard Massey being the first Parish Priest. At this time the Catholics of Prospect became parishioners of Blacktown and St Brigid’s became an out-church of the new parish.

In July 1956, the Catholics of Prospect held a Ball in the Prospect School of Arts Hall to celebrate the Centenary of the Dedication of St Brigid’s Church.

Fr. Norman Grady, who was Assistant Priest in the Blacktown Parish, helped with the organisation of the Ball.

After the death of Fr. Moriarty, Fr. Hugh Law became Parish Priest of Blacktown.  In the early 1960s he had St Brigid’s painted and repaired. At this time the date 1854 was painted on the outside of the Church.  Prior to this is had been 1845, believed to depict the date of the commencement of the School-home which had been used as a Mass centre until the opening of the Church in 1856.

 In 1972 Fr. Law moved to the Harbord Parish, and until January 1974, the Blacktown Parish was administered for short periods by Fr. O’Sullivan, Fr. Willoughby and Fr. Hickman.

It was in January 1974 that Bishop Edward Clancy was appointed Bishop of the Outer Western Region of the Archdiocese and Parish Priest of Blacktown.

St. Brigid’s Church closed in 1975, and was demolished in 1977. At this time the building was painted cream on the outside and cement rendered on the inside. The bricks were taken down by hand, individually cleaned by volunteer parishioners of Blacktown South and now form the sanctuary wall and exterior walls of St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Blacktown South. The 1856 Altar Stone is set into the St. Michael’s Altar. The 1854 plaque and stone from St. Brigid’s have been made into a memorial in the grounds of St. Michael’s.

St. Brigid’s Church was erected on land at the corner of Thornley Road and the Western Highway (now Reservoir Road). The Prospect Highway now intersects with Reservoir Road in this vicinity. St. Mark’s Coptic Catholic Church now has a building on what was some of the St. Brigid’s property.  

Source: ‘Faith of our fathers, living still’, Pamela Tromp

© Prospect Heritage Trust Inc.

Photo 1 Photo 5 Photo 3 Photo 4 Photo 2 Photo 7 Photo 6

Below are photos of St Brigid’s Church. Click on each of the photos for more information

Who is St. Brigid?

Brigid was probably born at Faughart near Dundalk, Louth, Ireland. Her parents were baptized by St. Patrick, with whom she developed a close friendship. According to legend, her father was Dubhthach, an Irish chieftain of Lienster, and her mother, Brocca, was a slave at his court.

Even as a young girl she evinced an interest for a religious life and took the veil in her youth from St. Macaille at Croghan and probably was professed by St. Mel of Armagh, who is believed to have conferred abbatial authority on her. She settled with seven of her virgins at the foot of Croghan Hill for a time and about the year 468, followed Mel to Meath. About the year 470 she founded a double monastery at Cill-Dara (Kildare) and was Abbess of the convent, the first in Ireland.

The foundation developed into a center of learning and spirituality, and around it grew up the Cathedral city of Kildare. She founded a school of art at Kildare and its illuminated manuscripts became famous, notably the Book of Kildare, which was praised as one of the finest of all illuminated Irish manuscripts before its disappearance three centuries ago. Brigid was one of the most remarkable women of her times, and despite the numerous legendary, extravagant, and even fantastic miracles attributed to her, there is no doubt that her extraordinary spirituality, boundless charity, and compassion for those in distress were real. She died at Kildare on February 1, 525. The Mary of the Gael, she is buried at Downpatrick with St. Columba and St. Patrick, with whom she is the patron of Ireland. Her name is sometimes Bridget and Bride. Her feast day is February 1.


St. Brigid founded two monastic institutions, one for men and the other for women. Thus, for centuries, Kildare was ruled by a double line of Abbot-Bishops and Abbesses – the Abbess of Kildare being regarded as Superioress General of the convents in Ireland.

Her cathedral city and school of Kildare became famous all over Europe.

Monsignor Rigney placed a photograph of Saint Brigid high on the wall behind the altar after he had decorated the enlarged sanctuary in St. Brigid’s, Prospect in 1891. This photograph remained in place until some restoration work was undertaken in the early 1960s.

Source: Faith of our fathers, living still, Pamela Tromp