St Bede’s Catholic Church in Pyrmont Street is the oldest, continuously functioning church on the Pyrmont peninsula. The Sydney Morning Herald article on the laying of the foundation stone (7/2/1867) stated that, when completed, the new church would be “a very neat and elegant structure”.
The building was ready for blessing and opening seven months later. Much of the work had been done by stonemason members of the new parish, continuing to labour after long hours in the local quarries. The work of many hands is evident in the different chisel patterns in the sandstone. Some of the stone was quarried on site, as can be seen in the cliff face at the rear of the church. At that time, and for many years after, there was an uninterrupted view from the church to the waters of Darling Harbour.
The church building continues to contribute to the dynamic quality of the worshipping community. Its simplicity and elegance attract the deep affection of those who gather there each week. That affection has been expressed in recent years by the installation of new stained-glass windows in memory of the parish pioneers, and of the many nuns and priests and parishioners who have served the community since 1867.
The parish celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2017. Restoration of the sandstone church has been completed as a sesquicentenary project, and this book was commissioned by the Parish Council to record the history of the parish. It is hoped that the whole local community will join in celebrating the Catholic community’s 150 years on Pyrmont Peninsula.
Colin Fowler is a member of the Australian Province of the Dominican Order. He was Parish Priest of St Bede’s, Pyrmont, from 2005 to 2014. He has a doctorate in the history of 17th century philosophy from Deakin University.