St Ambrose Catholic Primary School, Concord West
Date posted: March 9, 2017
The opening of Concord West railway station in 1887 led to an increase of population in that area and the Catholic Church saw the need to establish a church so, in 1921, land on the corner of Queen & Stuart Streets was purchased to build St. Ambrose Catholic Church. Adjoining land was subsequently bought, at a cost of £590 ($1180) to establish a school.
A census taken in 1922 indicated that 38 Catholic families were living within the present Parish Boundaries so it was time to build a church in the area. At this time Mass was celebrated in private homes pending the building of a church.
The nearest Catholic Church at that time was St. Mary’s Church on Parramatta Road, Concord, at the other end of the municipality.
No time was wasted and by 1923 the foundation stone for the church was laid and was blessed by Archbishop Michael Kelly. Building proceeded rapidly and in 1924 the Church was opened by Archbishop Kelly. Their debt to the National Bank was £3,578-18-10.
Classes began in the church with Sister Thaddeus in charge. The Sisters of Charity were residing at St. Mary’s, Concord, and for 13 years they travelled daily to Concord West.
There was a movement in 1925 to separate from St Mary’s Parish but this was defeated in a local ballot of Catholic resident. The collection the previous Sunday was £1-10-00 ($3.00)
Finally, in 1929, St. Ambrose Parish separated from St. Mary’s. Father John O’Reilly was the Parish Priest and Sr. Blanding was in charge of the school. However, there were difficult times ahead as this was the onset of the Great Depression.
In 1930 a cottage in Stuart Street, opposite the school, was bought and served as a Presbytery until the building of the present Church and Parish House.
The following year Father (later Monsignor) Leslie Carroll was appointed as Parish Priest and he served the Parish until his death thirty-eight years later. He was the inspiration and motivating force behind the present Church and Presbytery.
In 1937 another cottage in Mackenzie Street was bought for use as a Convent.
Construction of a school building began in 1949
The foundation stone of the new Church was laid on 4th April 1965 by Monsignor Carroll.
In 1970 Father Patrick Frost was appointed as Parish Priest and the Parents and Friends’ Association was established. The first Parish Council was appointed during Fr. Frost’s incumbency.
Population in the area increased and in 1977 further extensions to the school were made.
The last Sisters of Charity left the school in 1978. The following year Father Kevin McGovern was appointed as Parish Priest.
The Presbytery was converted for greater community use in 1995 and a few years later a major school refurbishment was undertaken.
The old Confessionals in the Church were converted to Chapels dedicating Mary MacKillop and Saints Anthony and Lucy.
The school is appealing for help so the pupils can get to know some of the personal history of the school. If you have a story to tell or some photographs please contact Joanna Belfiore on 0423-022-275 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.