History

St Patrick’s Parish Singleton

The Parish of Singleton was founded in 1846, just 10 years after the town of Singleton was subdivided.
It is one of the oldest parishes in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese. Many of the Upper Hunter Parishes derive their origin from the Parish of Singleton. The Singleton Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy established their first convent (later to be the
Congregational Headquarters) and St Catherine’s Secondary School here. The Redemptorist Fathers also established themselves here before moving to Mayfield.
The Church of St Patrick in Queen Street owes it’s foundation to the Irish Priest John Rigney who on the 23 July 1848 opened subscriptions for “Erecting a New Church and Priests Cottage on the Catholic Church Land at Singleton”. The new church was to replace the wooden structure of St Augustine which had served the Catholic population of Singleton and the surrounding area form 1845.
Archbishop Polding of Sydney laid the foundation stone for the new church on 31 March 1859 and within 10 months the Archbishop returned to officially open and consecrate the new church on 12 February 1860.The final construction was however, somewhat less than Munro design, with the nave only being built.


In 1875 a gallery was added during the ministry of Father Fontaine whilst in 1881 the church was extended by the addition of a chancel or sanctuary, a sacristy and an oratory for the use of the Sisters of Mercy.
In 1894 to accommodate the growing convent population, the seating capacity of the oratory was extended, a southern entrance added and a large circular stained glass window portraying the Virgin and Child was installed. Finally in 1920-21 the two western towers were added to the church under direction of Monsignor Peter Meagher as a memorial to those Catholics of the parish who had died in World War 1.
Other churches in the Parish are St Paul’s at Glendonbrook and The Church of The Immaculate Conception in Broke. A snapshot of St Patrick’s Parish from the 2011 Australian Census
Total Population: 20,461
Catholic Population: 5,238
Catholics make up 25.6 per cent of the total population
Median age of Catholics is 32 years
Total Catholic families: 2,080

2014 Singleton Parish Assembly Report

St Brigid’s Parish, Branxton

According to the Australian Catholic Directory, Bishop James Murray formed his first Parochial District, that of Branxton, during 1871 and to which he appointed parish priest, Rev. Father John Lawless. The early church records show the Parish of Branxton as having Mass stations at Greta, Cessnock, Ellalong, Wollombi, Broke and Glendon Brook although the 1862 records indicate that both Ellalong & Cessnock Mass stations as being a part of the Parochial District of Wollombi.
By 1864, in time for the arrival of its new Diocesan Bishop, a fine brick church and new
Presbytery had been constructed and by 1871 was well equipped to house the Rev. John
Lawless.
On Sunday 4th July 1886 a party of Sisters of Mercy set out from Singleton to form a branch convent at Branxton. Their new convent was built and then opened on 17th March 1889. Both Greta and Branxton schools opened on Monday 5th July 1886. The teachers came from the new Convent established the previous day at Branxton. It would seem that the first schools utilised the church buildings at both Greta and Branxton as classrooms.On 6th May 1886 the Catholic Church purchased a parcel of land the area of 37 4/5 perches between the 1866 church and the cemetery at Branxton as the site of a new Church.The new St. Brigid’s Church was officially opened by Bishop James Murray on Sunday 5th June 1887.


The Branxton school was built in 1888 and in 1889 Rev Rogers purchased a parcel of land
opposite the church which was to be the site of the convent. This land become known as “Rosary Park”, which is now home to the current Parish Catholic School built in 2008.
A snapshot of the St Brigid’s Parish from the 2011 Australian Census
Total Area Population: 9,003
Catholic Population: 2,888
Catholics make up 32.1% of the total population
Median age of Catholics is 32 years
Total Catholic families: 1,167

2016 Branxton Parish Assembly Report

St Catherine’s Church Greta

The Greta township had prospered with the coal mining development and in the year 1900 it was decided that a Catholic convent school house should be built. On Sunday 20th May 1900, Bishop Patrick laid the foundation stone for the new Greta school and this new Catholic School was opened on the 28th July 1900 by Rev. Father Barry C.S.S.R of the Monastery, Waratah.
Many changes affected the Parish of Branxton including the discovery of coal seams in the Great Greta district and the changes of the boundaries of the parish. World War II brought many changes throughout Australia and for the Branxton Parish Catholic people there was no more dramatic changes than the construction of the large army camp at Greta. This brought to the area thousands of young men. At the end of the war the camp became home to many migrants looking for a home and place to work and housed up to 10,000 people at any one time. These migrants began to attend Mass held in Greta and Branxton churches. There was also a church at the migrant camp and a catholic school was set up. The camp was closed in 1960.
The old Greta Church was demolished by volunteers in 1960 many of these came from the migrant section of the Greta community. On Sunday 1st April 1962 Bishop John Toohey opened the new church and it was dedicated to St Catherine. On 24th March 1963 Bishop Toohey made Greta town a separate parish from Branxton, however the Parish of Greta only had a short life of ten years when it was once again incorporated with Branxton Parish.