The Parish of St Andrews in Marayong came into existence on February 1st, 1961. It was separated from Blacktown parish and was officially designated as the Parish of Doonside/Quakers Hill. Father Kenneth Byrne was the first Parish Priest and served this parish as Pastor until 1988. In January 1963, Doonside became a separate Parish as did Quakers Hill 10 years later in January 1973.
The first Mass in the temporary Parish Church was on November 5th, 1961. The reconstructed Church had its first Mass on November 5, 1977. Due to the population increase in the early 1990s it was necessary to dramatically extend the Church once again – in 1994 the present Church was blessed and dedicated.
This parish now has over 10,000 parishioners. The parish is very fortunate as we have parishioners from all over the world. These people have brought with them the gifts of many and varied cultures and ways of expressing and living out our faith. This has enriched our parish community in very many ways.
With such a large parish there has been the need to develop facilities to provide opportunities to come together. The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth helped in this by returning to the parish the convent they had used in the early years of the parish. This building has been renovated into a series of meeting rooms of various sizes and thus provides a venue for most parish meetings. We have also received great support from our parish schools, St Andrews Primary School and St Andrews College. St Andrews Primary School and the John Paul 11 Campus of St Andrews College are both on parish land so are adjacent to the church. When we have need of their facilities there are always ready to help out. The geographical closeness of the schools to the Parish Centre has been a great bonus in the religious education and formation of the young people of this community.
It became obvious in recent years that we were in need of proper office facilities. These have now been built adjacent to the church and have made a tremendous difference to the day-to-day activities of the parish.
Over the years, as the parish has grown, many of the parishioners have chosen to be actively involved in the various ministries of the parish. The involvement of the members of the community in the life of the parish is what makes our parish so special, for true parish life is about family and community. Much has been done to create a welcoming community and a place where people feel comfortable. The parish community has continually provided opportunities for faith education and formation.
Father Ron McFarlane became the second parish priest of St Andrews Marayong in 1988 and continues to be part of this community. Over the years, we have been fortunate to be able to have Assistant Priests, each of whom has contributed something significant to the parish by their presence and unique gifts. Having two priests in the parish as the numbers have grown has made it possible to expand the activities of the parish. Of course, this would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of many people who are part of this community — their involvement has meant that the parish is able to provide so many opportunities to be supportive in the faith journey of this parish family.
It is important to look back with gratitude to the tremendous debt that we owe to Father Kenneth Byrne and the parishioners, past and present, of this parish. We owe them a great deal for what physically exists here and also for the spirit of faith and life that is present. We also need to recognise those people who are presently involved in developing and deepening the life of this parish. What we have learnt is that a parish is about people; it is the people, their involvement and their commitment that makes the parish come truly alive.
While it would be great to have more people make such a commitment, we need to be thankful to those who are currently involved.
We also need to look to the future. Just as we acknowledge the debt of gratitude we owe to those who have come before us in those who are currently involved, we need to recognise that what this parish will become in the future will depend upon the willingness of the people who are part of this parish community to get involved and make a commitment to this community.