This church site was purchased by the Archdiocese of Sydney in July 1889 at the encouragement of Dean Callaghan McCarthy, then parish priest of St Mary’s Concord, who recognised that distance and transport prevented many Mortlake and Cabarita families from attending St Mary’s. Described as ‘…a direct, determined and energetic Irishman…’ Dean McCarthy worked on plans for the construction of the church, but tragically, a couple of months prior to laying the foundation stone, he was involved in a train accident on the way to a service at St Mary’s Cathedral. Despite severe injuries, Dean McCarthy reportedly called a cab and proceeded calmly to St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, before dying a few hours later! Extraordinarily, the church opened (in 1895) without debt, due to the combined generosity of a bequest (£300) from Dean McCarthy and the people of Mortlake who raised £230 over three years (an enormous sum given the general district’s poverty at that time).
A school operated here from 1896-1909 and from 1917-1963. However, in 2017 a new St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School opened in response to the increasing demand from the community for more Catholic education within the area.
Residential developments are increasing in and around the Mortlake peninsular and St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School will ensure all children and families have access to quality Catholic education.
Renovations in 1938 doubled the size of the church and the parish became independent from Concord in December 1943 with the appointment of Fr Maurice McCarthy. The altar and Stations of the Cross were replaced in the late 60s. The porte-cochere was added in 1979 and renovations were made to the sanctuary in 1993.
In 2009 St Patrick’s was extensively renovated and the porte – cochere was converted to a glass walled narthex. Statues were repainted and a new altar installed. Cardinal Pell blessed the renovations in March 2010.
The construction of the new parish presbytery was completed in 2013. The existing presbytery was demolished to make way for additional parking space.
In 2020 a year beset with the greatest trial of many of our lifetimes, the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a special joy to celebrate the 125 th anniversary of our parish, St Patrick’s Mortlake. The launch of our parish history, An Enduring Flame, St Patrick’s Mortlake, 1895-2020, author, Dr Damian Gleeson was celebrated on Sunday 15 th November, 2020.
An Enduring Flame, St Patrick’s Mortlake, ‘1895-2020: an Irish- Australian working class community’, researched by author, Dr Damian Gleeson is available for sale from the Parish Office.
On Sunday 13 August, 2023, the refurbished Dean Callaghan McCarthy Hall was blessed by Father Tom Stevens.