Our Holy Redeemer Parish Surrey Hills

In 1901, Fr. George Robinson, Parish Priest of Camberwell, purchased the present site of Holy Redeemer. Surrey Hills, at that time, came within the Camberwell parish. The owner of the land was reluctant to sell to the Catholic Church, but Miss Amy Castles, a noted singer and friend of Fr. Robinson, purchased the land in her own name and then transferred it to the Church. A statue of Our Lady of Victories donated by Miss Castles stood in the Church for many years. On the 11th May, 1902, the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer (the original title of the Church) was blessed and opened by Archbishop Thomas Carr, Archbishop of Melbourne. The architect was A. A. Fritsch; the cost 3,500 pounds. In 1904 Fr. Robinson erected a weatherboard school-hall where the present hall now stands. It was blessed and opened by Archbishop Carr on 20th November of that year. In January 1905, the Sisters of St Joseph took charge of the school.

Holy Redeemer became a separate parish when Fr David Gleeson, an Irish-born priest, was inducted as its first resident Parish Priest on 5th February 1911. On 19th July 1914 a new presbytery at 4 Barton Street was blessed and opened by Archbishop Carr. It cost 1,500 pounds. Archbishop Mannix opened and blessed the new brick school on 10th November 1918. In 1922 a new Convent was built on land purchased for 275 pounds on the corner of Mont Albert Road and Wilson Street. This was opened by Archbishop Mannix on 14th January 1923. The Sisters of St Joseph who taught at the school had until then walked each day from Kent Road. During 1935 – 1936 the present brick hall was built. It was officially opened by Archbishop Mannix on the 15th March, 1936.

Parish Priests of Our Holy Redeemer:

1911-1933 Fr David Gleeson
1933-1941 Dr W. M. Collins
1941-1972 Fr Tim Fitzpatrick
1972-1976 Mons Kevin Toomey
1976-1987 Fr Michael Burke
1987-1998 Fr John Brosnan
1998-2005 Fr Peter Priestley
2005-2010 Dr Anthony Hicks
2011-2017 Fr John Dowling
2017-present Fr Mark Reynolds


Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Wattle Park

In 1952 the property at the corner of Bentley and Erasmus Streets was purchased by Father Timothy Fitzpatrick, Parish Priest of Our Holy Redeemer Parish, Surrey Hills. This property consisted of a large two storey house, a coach house and stable, and an acre and a half of land.

In 1954 the coach house and stable were converted into the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, and Mass was celebrated on Christmas Eve in the “stable” which was appropriate.

The area was declared a parish in 1955 and Father John Kelly was appointed parish priest. The first parish Mass was celebrated in January of that year. The parish boundaries included parts of surrounding parishes.

Father Kelly took up residence in the house, on which there was a great deal of work to be done. The gentleman who had lived there alone since his wife died many years before, lived in the servants quarters and the rest of the house had been badly neglected. Following a parish meeting, the necessary repairs were done by voluntary labour and functions were organized to raise money to pay for these works.

The members of the parish were mainly young married couples with small children and they were keen on providing a school. At this time a bank loan was impossible, so a co-op was started which raised 7,000 pounds immediately. As this was insufficient to build the three roomed school, the men of the parish decided they could do all the work required, apart from the brickwork.

This work commenced on Easter Saturday 1956 and continued every Saturday and holiday until the beginning of the school year in 1957. The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart opened the school on this day.

In 1956, the land where the tennis court now stands was purchased.

As the nuns had to travel from a convent in Balwyn each day, a convent was considered to be a necessity, so when the house at 301 Elgar Road became available it was purchased and Father Kelly moved in. This is the block on which the existing church now stands. The two storey house became the convent in 1959.

The work of the parish men continued. The school ground was concreted. The tennis court pavilion was erected and the tennis courts and basketball court were laid by contract. Work continued with improvements and additions to the convent and the school.

By 1961 it was obvious that the numbers in the parish had increased and the converted stable was now inadequate. A new church was needed. While this was being discussed the property next door to the presbytery in Elgar Road, on the corner of Erasmus Street, became available and so it was bought and converted into the new presbytery. The old presbytery was then demolished, some land was purchased from the Board of Works and the new church was planned on this land and part of the basketball court. A new court was marked out and erected in the school ground.

The work of erecting the new church was commenced early in 1963. A great part of the interior fittings of the church, and the paving around the outside was again done by the men of the parish.

The church was completed and opened by His Grace Archbishop Simmonds on the 20th of March 1964.

The church has served the parish for 50 years. During this time needs of the community have changed, as have some of the liturgical practices. To accommodate these needs, refurbishments to the front, back and grounds of the church have taken place, under the guidance of Father John Dowling. These extensions were blessed by Archbishop Denis Hart on 2nd August 2014. The nave of the church had some refurbishment some years ago, when the altar rails were removed and the altar moved forward.