Religious Communities

Parish’s Name:

St Michael’s, Manilla

Religious Communities throughout the Parish’s history:

  • Sisters of St Joseph – 1904-1987       


The following excerpt taken from “The Catholic Church in Manilla – 1894-1994 – A brief history of St Michael’s


An era is coming to an end with the departure of the Sisters of St Joseph after 83 years of service to St Michael’s Parish and School.

Early in 1904 four Sisters came to Manilla, this number was reduced to three in 1964 and further reduced to two in 1982.

The shortage of Sisters has now created a situation where small towns like Manilla must loose Sisters so that the larger centres can maintain support.

In appreciation for the years of devotion that the Sisters have made to Manilla . a special day has been organised for the 22nd November 1987. This day will begin with a special Mass at 11.00am. followed by a barbecue lunch at the school. Benediction will conclude the day at 3.30PM. We hope to see many of the Sisters who served here in past years so as to convey our thanks for all they have done for our community. His Lordship Bishop H. J. Kennedy will also be in attendance. All are invited to attend the day to show their personal appreciation to the Sisters. Barbecued meat will be available for sale on the day. Please bring along a plate, cutlery etc. if required by yourself, as well as a salad dish and slice for pooling, if possible.

The statue of St Joseph is to be restored and. relocated to a new location and together with a special plaque will continue to remind us all in the coming years, of the service of the Sisters of St Joseph.

Following is the story of the Sisters coming to Manilla with some interesting history 9f their early days:

Manilla was established as a Parish in 1912. Until 1887 Manilla was part of the Bingara Parish when it was transferred to Tamworth Parish. Up to January, 1894, Catholics in Manilla had to journey to Upper Manilla to attend Mass. A committee was formed to pave the way for the erection of a Church at Manilla. Dr. Torreggiani, Bishop of Armidale, supplied the plans. The

foundation stone was laid on 5th January, 1894; the building opened on 25th November, 1894, when Rt Rev. F. Ryan of Tamworth Parish ministered to the needs of the people of Manilla. He was followed in 1899 by Rev. Dean O’Neill. In 1902 additions to St Michael’s Church were opened by Bishop Torreggiani.

The Sisters of St Joseph came to Manilla early in 1904, Sr Julian being the First Superior of a Community of four Sisters. Their first residence was a house in Court Street, now the home of Mr and Mrs Peter Abberfield. On December, 1904, it was recorded that the pupils from the Convent School took part in a concert, “acquitting themselves in splendid order”.

There were 104 students enrolled in 1904, and by 1906 there were 123 pupils. Congregational statistics of 1916 show that pupil enrolment had lowered to 86, music pupils totalled 33, and 7 boarders were cared for, while the Community remained at four Sisters. Statistics of 1942 show that school enrolments remained steady at 82 pupils.

Soon after the arrival the Sisters purchased the residence of J F Wearne on Railway Hill, and this was converted into a Convent, which was opened by Bishop O’Connor in November 1905.

In 1911 John Ferry sold his land to the Trustees of the Catholic Church, and it was on this land that the present Convent was built in 1914. The old Convent, The Railway Hill Residence became the Presbytery, where the priest lived until 1943.

Up till 1938 the Church building built in 1894 of St Michael’s was used for school purposes as well. In May, 1938 Bishop Coleman officiated at the opening of a new Church, built on the corner of Court and Rowan Streets. The new presbytery was opened by Bishop Doody in 1948. Unfortunately fire destroyed the existing Church on 18th August 1971. A new Church, the present one was blessed and opened by His Lordship, Bishop H J Kennedy on 28th May, 1972.

In 1939 when the Church of St Michael’s was built, the original church building was converted into a school. The first Catholic School, actually built as a school, was the present St Michael’s School. It was built on the site, on the rock foundations of St Michael’s of 1894, between the present Church and Convent. Bishop Doody officially blessed and opened this school on 27th July, 1958. The Parish Priest at the time was Monsignor O’Brien.

The Secondary division of the School was closed in December, 1964.

No further information has been provided at this stage. Please forward any information to the Catholic Schools Office

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