History of the Church of Blessed Sacrament, Clifton Gardens
Father Peter Murphy was appointed to the newly formed Parish of Clifton Gardens on 9 March 1926, living at Mosman Presbytery. The first meeting of parishioners took place on 28th September 1926 in the School Hall at Cardinal St. The site for the new church had been bought by Fr. O’Brien of Mosman. Father Murphy attempted unsuccessfully to purchase the former Bradley’s Head Convalescent Home, adjacent to the site, for his Presbytery but eventually bought the house across the road.
An amount of ₤250 of the ₤850 subscribed at the first meeting of parishioners was donated by Father Murphy himself. It was decided to restrict spending on the Church to ₤7500, half the original estimate, to allow for the purchase of the Presbytery, so only the nave and vestibule were built. Archbishop Kelly laid the Foundation Stone on 9th January 1927,the first Mass was celebrated on 13th November and the Blessing and Opening took place on 27th November, Archbishop Kelly again officiating.
After having been entitled “Monsignor” in 1940, Father Murphy suffered many bouts of illness and died in May 1949.
Irish-born Father Tom Pierse was appointed PP of Clifton Gardens in 1949. In 1953 he added a Baptistery, (donated by parishioners to celebrate his Diamond Jubilee,) a soundproof room and front porch. A second addition in 1961 provided Sacred Heart and Lady Chapels, a Sanctuary, Sacristy and two rooms below the Church. He purchased a Convent and the Lochinvar Sisters of St. Joseph opened a school within the Convent in 1950. The first school building was erected in 1955, the second in 1966. Working bees conducted by Father Pierse and parishioners cut the cost of this school extension by $16,000.
Father Pierse’s intense interest in religious symbolism is reflected in the beautiful stained-glass windows. Those in the Sacred Heart Chapel represent the Life of Our Lord and the institution of the Papacy, those in the Lady Chapel represent Mary under various symbolic titles. The Baptistery window, designed by Father Pierse, depicts the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnation and Baptism.
Retiring in 1981, Father Pierse continued to live in the Parish and died in 1985 in the 85th year of his life and the 59th year of his priesthood, Father Peter Phibbs having been appointed PP. Father Phibbs carpeted the Church, refurbished the statues and prepared and opened the Parish Centre. He was also active in the Ecumenical Movement and Parish Visitation. He died in 1993.
In January 1994, Father Peter Christie was appointed Administrator and in May of that year became PP. Father Christie honoured the Lochinvar Sisters in March 1995 with a Parish celebration of Mary MacKillop’s Beatification. He had new classrooms constructed at Blessed Sacrament School, which were opened by Bishop Cremin on 9th April 2000.
A dire shortage of priests and falling attendance at Mass led to the need for greater parishioner involvement in Parish affairs. When Father Christie retired in September 2005, 80 parishioners of approximately 250 regular Mass attendees, were involved in some form of voluntary Parish work.
Blessed Sacrament entered into a partnering arrangement with Sacred Heart Mosman and St. Joseph’s Neutral Bay but was keen to still retain its own identity. Fathers Anthony Bernard and Danai Penollar worked in the Parish alongside Father Terry Brady and the cluster of parishes became known as The Parishes of Sydney Harbour North. The highly respected and dearly loved Father Terry Brady was consecrated as Bishop on 16th November, 2007, and moved to Liverpool early in 2008. Father Phil Linder became the new Parish Priest, assisted by Father Danai, while Father Anthony was appointed Assistant Priest at Liverpool.
Beauty Point has now joined the Parishes of Sydney Harbour North. We are very proud of all Blessed Sacrament Parish has accomplished since its inception and sincerely pray for God’s continued blessing on our priests, our parishioners and our partnered parishes.
Contribution by Margot Keaney
The Parish was established in October 1955 with Masses celebrated in the presbytery for ten years until the church was erected in 1965.
The church was designed by Donald Maclurcan, a well-known architect and member of the parish. The foundation stone was laid and blessed on May 10th 1964 by Cardinal Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney, who also officially opened it on January 10th 1965.