Welcome to St.Patrick’s
If you are a visitor or parishioner, please feel free to contact our friendly pastoral workers or parish priests. We hope that through your experience with our community spirit, it will encourage you to be drawn into God’s love through active engagement in our parish.
We, the people of St Patrick’s Parish Pakenham are part of the People of God, the Church. As Catholics we are called by God, and baptized in Christ. We strive to be a community centred on Jesus Christ, to come closer to God in prayer, and to each other, in the faith that unites us.
Irish Catholic families were among the pioneer families that opened up the land east of Melbourne in the late 1830’s and early 1840’s.
The earliest of these were the Connors on Cardinia Creek (1838), the Nevilles and Bourkes at Pakenham, the Dores at Nar Nar Goon, the Mulcahys and Hennessys near Pakenham. Strong in faith they travelled into St Francis Church in Melbourne for Masses, Baptisms and the occasional Marriage.
Fr. Geoghan, the pioneer priest returned their visits and stayed overnight in their homes of wattle and daub nestled in the bush. By the early 1850’s the Catholics of the area had organized a school under the direction of Daniel Ahearn on Toomuc Creek.
In the 1850’s the parish of Heidelberg was created. The French priest Fr Bourgeois had charge of the whole of the outer district, south and east of Melbourne and all the way to the NSW border. This included Pakenham. Pakenham subsequently became part of the parish of Brighton when it was cut off from Heidelberg parish.
In the early 1860’s application for a grant of Crown land was made at the current St Patrick’s site. The applicants were the then Parish Priest, Fr Niall and several local Catholic identities, Messrs Dore, Mulcahy, Kelly and Bourke. A wooden school building costing eighty pounds was erected on the site in 1864. In 1872, with the acquisition of further land, a church was built. It still stands and was used as the St Patrick’s Parish Church until 1976. It has now been restored and is the school’s Performing Arts Centre. In 1883 the vast Brighton mission was split in two and Pakenham became part of the Dandenong Parish.
Following the abolition of State Aid to religious schools, in 1872, the school at Pakenham ceased to function. It was not until 1888 that the Parish Priest, a Father Quilter, was able to make funds available once again for the reopening of the school. This occurred on 26th June 1888 with a Miss Butler as the teacher. Finally, in 1935, after 47 more years of lay teachers (including a thirty year stint from Elizabeth Hunt!) the Presentation sisters arrived in Pakenham to take over the school. The first Religious Principal was Mother Anthony.
St Patrick’s Pakenham became a parish in its own right in 1954.
In 1959, Pakenham, along with other parishes in West and South Gippsland was transferred from the Melbourne Archdiocese to the Diocese of Sale. In 1976 the original Parish Church was replaced with a new, larger Church which is still in use today.
The various buildings on the site bear witness to the wonderfully energetic Parish priests who served at St Patrick’s during our more recent history: Fr. Frank O’Reagan, Fr John Phelan, Fr Frank Ruth, Fr Joe Flynn and many more. Also, within the new Parish Centre, there is a tribute wall to some of the identities from our long history including all the Presentation Sisters who served here until 1992.
The suburbs of Melbourne have been moving eastwards and in a short time Pakenham has changed from a quiet country town of 3000 to a vibrant centre of 27,000. The population is expected to be 54,000 by the year 2024. In recent years Parish and School facilities have been developed to cope with this burgeoning population.
St Clare of Assisi Primary School, the second Pakenham Parish School opened at the start of the 2015 school year, with the official opening and blessing by Bishop Pat O’Regan of Sale on 28 August 2015. It is located next to the St Francis Xavier site in the Grandvue Estate at 95 Majestic Drive, Officer.
As well as a Primary School, the Parish (with help from a State Government Grant) officially opened an Early Learning Centre, including four year old and three year kinder as well as a play group on 21 April 2015. The ELC as a Parish facility serves both Parish Primary Schools, St Clare’s and St Patrick’s, and is located within the St Clare’s Primary School grounds. This facility was the first Catholic ELC to open in the diocese of Sale.