St Patrick's - Kilmore Parish
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St Patrick's-
37 Sutherland Street, Kilmore, Vic 3764
Fr. Prakash Cutinha
(03) 5782 1084
OFFICE HOURS Mon, Wed, Fri 9.30 am - 4.30 pm



Before colonisation by England, the Kilmore district belonged to the Wurundjeri section of the Woiworung tribe, as part of the Kulin nation stretching from Melbourne to the Euroa area. To the west of Kilmore were significant stone quarries at Mt. William where basalt had changed to the hard and glassy textured phonolite, greatly valued for stone axes. The first white explorers of the area were Hume and Hovell in 1824, en route from NSW to Corio Bay. After the arrival of white settlers from Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) in 1835, there was an explosion of growth to the north, in what was then the Colony of New South Wales.


Many Irish were attracted and settled in the rich, volcanic area of Kilmore. Bishop Goold, Melbourne’s first, passed through the area in April 1849, and when confronted by the obvious need, established the mission/parish of Kilmore.


I was the first bishop who visited that part of the Archdiocese of Sydney that is situated between Albury and the Murrumbidgee, and the part of the Melbourne diocese which lies between the Murray and that city”.


Kilmore prides itself as “Australia’s first inland town”. This is due to the efforts of William Rutledge an industrious Irish immigrant who, in 1841, took up and had initiated a “special survey’ on the Sydney Road. He named the town after his family home and local Irish diocese, the Gaelic names mean burying place and big church. And so St. Patrick’s became Australia’s first inland catholic parish, in 1849, before the State of Victoria existed.


The first resident priest, Fr. Charles Clarke, is described as in his 40’s, genial and of robust frame. Little is known of his work but records indicate he travelled to minister as far as Echuca, Wodonga, Heidelberg, Mansfield and Woods Point. He died in 1854. Recollected history is that there was initially a chapel on Brewery Hill, at the north end of the town, built of 6ft paling slabs and a shingle roof. Discoveries of gold in 1850 and 1851 meant dramatic increases of traffic though the area, and ultimately residents who were quick to provide for the needs of this growing area and travellers. By 1848 a catholic school had been started and in 1851 three sites in Sutherland street were granted. With the usual government grant and donations, a stone church/school was built on this land by 1854, but by then the parish priest Timothy O’Rourke, had ideas of a substantial church.


 His successor Fr. Michael Branigan took up the cause as well as establishing small local schools and places of worship.


Construction of the current church, designed by William Wardell, who also designed St. Patrick’s cathedral and several other notable buildings, was begun in 1856. It was built largely from local basalt. By 1857 it was complete except for the roof and a 100ft tower (which was never completed.) Designed in the style of English gothic architecture, it was reputed to have cost 16,000 pounds, a large sum in those days, and supposed to have accommodated 1200!  It was finally competed and blessed by Bishop Goold, he having recently returned from the Vatican Council, on March 6th, 1871. The new PP Michael Farrelly had arrived in late 1870, and  he remains of  Frs. O’Rourke and Branigan were interred in crypts within the church. Small crosses mark these crypts in front of the Lady chapel. In 1873 the magnificent high altar made from a New Zealand limestone was commissioned, carved in London by Farmer and Co., and dedicated to the two priests. It is an extraordinary work of art, featuring the twelve apostles, and intricate carving, especially the statue of St. Peter on the extreme left. Over time the magnificent stained glass windows were added. The most outstanding example of which is that of “St. Patrick preaching to the World”, located in the SE corner of the church.


Fr. Farrelly, born in the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, and ordained in Melbourne by Bishop Goold in 1857, was to serve from 1870 to 1906. He was integral to an era of new developments. Significantly there were many small local schools, and churches at Seymour, Emu Creek, Pyalong, Broadford, Strath Creek and Wandong. The divisive Education Act of 1872 meant catholic schools, now without government financial support, had to survive by private means. Many small schools closed. But in a determined response Fr. Farrelly was instrumental in encouraging the Sisters of Mercy (1875) and the Marist Brothers (1893) to establish schools and an extraordinary legacy of service in education and formation.


Fr. Farrelly died in October, 1906, “in harness”, in his 85th year. Testimony to this popular servant of so many years was that after a huge funeral the archbishop, clergy and people walked the two miles to St. Patrick’s cemetery for his burial. Since then numerous priests, nuns, brothers and lay people have served the tens of thousands who have come here to worship, to be educated, to belong as members of this historic parish. The church you see today is a wonderful, visible sign of the faith that inspired those mainly Irish immigrants who flocked here in pioneering days. Its restoration in 2012 is due largely to the generosity of the estate of Harry and Bridget Butler and the involvement of many parishioners.

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