Welcome to Our Lady of Grace (OLG) Catholic Church! We are a coastal parish, serving the suburbs of North Beach, Sorrento, Trigg, Waterman’s Bay, Marmion, Duncraig, Carine and Karrinyup.
Parish life is very rich at OLG, with a diverse range of social and spiritual groups and activities available to parishioners.
We would love to have you in our community!
The history of Our Lady of Grace Parish goes back to the 1920s. North Beach was a rather isolated place accessed by a sandy track which snaked its way out from Tuart Hill. Mass was first celebrated in a rusty old tin shed, at one time a holiday home for the Sisters of Mercy.
The parish was established in 1951 when Fr T Prendiville was appointed Parish Priest with the church blessed and opened in 1954.
Our Lady of Grace Catholic Primary School was opened along with the church in 1954 with an enrolment of 46 students. Major extensions began in 1961 and have continued through the years as the school has developed into a fine centre of Catholic Education.
The sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth arrived in 1957 to assist with the staffing of the school. A Parish Centre was constructed in 1989 alongside the church. In 1964 with funds donated from America the prominent convent building was constructed alongside the church and school.
THE EARLY DAYS
Here we combine information from a series of memoirs written for the first edition of A Lifetime By The Sea 1920 – 1989, contributed by the parishioners of the day, and a second edition 50 Years by the Sea 1951 – 2001 edited by Deacon Paul Stacy.
These reflections give an insight into the early beginnings of the Parish and our close relationship with the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and Our Lady of Grace School.
Our thanks to the original contributors and our prayers are with those who have since passed over to eternal life.
North Beach began basically as a holiday area for Perth residents and remained isolated for some time. West Coast Highway was built as a defense measure around 1938. Further defense measures were undertaken including the barricading of the beach with barbed wire in 1942. Growth started after the war when the Perth Road Board began to develop the area. The road material was quarried from the area around the school perimeter, which now stands high above Charles Riley Reserve.
GOING TO MASS
In the 1920s going to Mass entailed a trip to Leederville. In the 1930s Gwelup was the nearest church. It was not until the 1940s that Mass was celebrated at North Beach. The first Masses were celebrated in an old iron and lattice shed, quite breezy when the wind came up. The shed was previously a holiday shack for the Sisters of Mercy.
It was after the Parish was established in 1951, PP being Fr Thomas Prendiville, that thoughts turned to a church. The first church was a building shared with the school, being blessed and dedicated by the Most Reverend Raymond Prendiville, Archbishop of Perth, in March of 1954.
After much planning a new church was commissioned with a distinctive design by architect Eoin Martin, the main feature being a large A-frame building. The architect personally explained it as representing the wings of a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit. The building was built by Mr. Pat Begley and constructed at a cost of $78,000. It was consecrated and opened by His grace Archbishop Goody in 1971. The PP at the time was Fr Joseph Depiazzi. Very unfortunately the dedication plate was removed when the external walls were rendered and has subsequently been lost.
The reasons why the parish and church have been named Our Lady of Grace are not known. One line of thought is that following the declaration in 1854, as an article of faith, The Immaculate Heart of Mary devotion to Mary became even more pronounced. Mary is deemed to be “Blessed Virgin –free from every stain of sin” hence as we say in our Prayer “Hail Mary full of grace….” hence Our Lady of Grace. Devotion to Mary has been very strong as evident by the archdiocese’s cathedral itself being dedicated to her Immaculate Heart
Over the years since 1971 the sanctuary has had various treatments to enhance the sense of place and liturgy. Depictions and other “enhancements” have come and gone. One major alteration by PP Fr Ken Keating was the removal of the black outlines of the crucifixion and annunciation on white plaster and the subsequent installation of the sculpture by Gerard Darwin, of the risen Christ “Christus Vincit” He also was the sculptor for the free standing depiction of Mary and her son Jesus adjacent to the Baptismal Font.
The Golden Jubilee Year for the parish, 2001, saw the major refurbishment and painting project that was undertaken for the church itself. The golden beams represent the rays of the Holy Spirit, the blue the ocean to the west and the earth colored carpet representing the red earth of central Australia.
During the time of PP Fr Richard Smith and at the instigation of the assistant PP Fr Mark Baumgarten the sanctuary had a major refit especially so with the location of the tabernacle to be central and behind the altar. The installation of the two “paintings” depicting the Annunciation in keeping with the feast of where Mary’s motherhood of Christ and hence the Incarnation of God Himself amongst us began and Mary’s fullness of grace was acknowledged by archangel Gabriele. This remodeling of the sanctuary and the installation of acoustic treatments were completed in 2020.
Parish Priests of OLG:
Fr Thomas Prendiville 1951 – 1955
Fr J Sullivan 1955 – 1956
Fr Michael Byrne 1957 -1957
Fr C Nolan 1957 – 1958
Fr Peter Kelly 1958 1959
Fr Joseph Depiazzi 1959 1966
Fr J Chokolich 1966 – 1969
Fr R O’Reilly 1969 – 1973
Fr James Mullins 1974 – 1982
Fr Ken Keating 1982 – 2007
Fr Richard Smith 2007 – 2019
Fr Hyginus Ebede 2019 – present
One of the initial tasks of the first Parish Priest was to establish a combined school and church building. Finding the right location was not easy.
However, after many disappointments, a suitable site was located when the Government agreed to excise three acres of land from the Kitchener St reserve to be bought by the parish.
|The original OLG School – Church
|Dedication stone of the OLG School – Church
|The Holy Water font that was in the OLG School – Church
The school began with the combined church/school built in 1954 housing 46 children in Grades 1 to 7. Major extensions began in 1961 when two new classrooms were built and numerous additions have taken place over the years. The last lot has been the modern classroom block where the Sisters’ convent used to be. This has enabled the school to become a three-stream school.
The history of the OLG School in its dedication plaques
1954 Original School-Church
2006 – 2008
2019 New class room block on the convent site
Initially, the Dominican Sisters ran the school. In 1958, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth assumed control and a very happy and fruitful association began. The new Order owned and operated OLG Primary School up until 2013 when they passed ownership to the Archbishop of Perth.
The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, an international religious congregation arrived in Perth in 1956. They came from America where the order had a large community.
Initially, they lived in Charles Street, North Perth, traveling to North Beach every school day. In 1964, with funds donated from America, a substantial convent was built south of the Church facing Kitchener St.
|The Sisters’ Covent facing Kitchener Street
The Charism of the Sisters provides a solid foundation for our school community;
Love of family modelled on the Holy Family
Love of God, love for each other.
Finding God in the everyday.
We are blessed to have three sisters living in our parish with two of the Sisters on the staff of Our Lady of Grace Primary School.
About the Order
The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth is an international congregation of religious women, founded in Rome in 1875, by Blessed Frances Siedliska.
The Sisters are called to extend the Kingdom of God’s love by imitating Jesus, Mary and Joseph whose lives were cantered in the love of God and one another, and by witnessing to that love through dedicated service to the Church, especially in her ministry to the family.
The Sisters are engaged in various apostolates including education, child care, pastoral ministry and care for the aged. Currently, the congregation participates in the mission of the Church in 14 countries including America, Europe, the Philippines, Ghana, and Australia.
Principals of Our Lady of Grace Primary School
|1987 – 1991
|Mr. D Davies
|1993 – 2000
|Mr. T Curry
|2001 – 2007
|Mrs. W Dobra
|2007 – 2018
|Mr. C Kenworthy
|2019 – 2022
|Mrs. G Doyle
THE MODERN ERA
Developments in the Parish over its lifetime can probably best be defined as a series of stepping stones guided and nurtured by the skills and personalities of the parish priests and involved parishioners at that time. One very significant material change was the establishment of the Parish Pastoral Centre.
OUR PARISH PASTORAL CENTRE
Shortly after Fr Ken Keating arrived he identified a need for a gathering place for the parishioners to cater for the growing number of groups operating in the parish.
In 1989 the original presbytery situated between the church and the convent was demolished and a house bought in Hamersley Street opposite the church for the new presbytery. A purpose built Parish Pastoral Centre was then constructed on the old presbytery site. Blessed and opened by Archbishop William Foley, 19th February 1989 during his very short time as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Perth
The Parish Centre has several meeting rooms and a hall, with equipment to cater for any function. One particular area is known as the Somers Lounge in recognition of the tremendous service given to the parishioners by James (Butch) and Marjorie Somers.
As well as the administrative Centre of our parish it is used for many pastoral needs as evidenced by the various groups listed under Parish Groups. One particularly important use is that within the Parish Pastoral Centre is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel as blessed by Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton on the 28th of October 2005
|The Blessed Sacrament Chapel
The recent history, from December 2019, have been characterized as the turbulent times associated with the COVID19 Pandemic. Such has impacted on many aspects of the society as well as the practice of our faith. Who would have ever imagined that the Government of the day would mandate that Churches were to be closed for religious observances? Easter Liturgies were forbidden, Sunday mass attendances forbidden and very limited numbers for funeral and marriage ceremonies. However through the sterling efforts of our Parish Priest Fr Hyginus and with the support of gifted parishioners daily and Sunday masses were lived streamed for parishioners. One outcome has been the increased improvements to the digital means of communication between the parish administration and the parishioners; the weekly Credo is now on-line as well Father’s and Deacon Paul’s homilies. As restrictions eased, for example – no more registering on entering the church, social distancing, sanitization of hands and the wearing of face masks the parish has slowly recovered. Unfortunately the 70th Anniversary of the Parish’s 2021 was a causality of the very unusual times in which we were surviving. Hopefully, this will be rectified by appropriate celebrations in 2026 for the 75th Anniversary. If you would like to be part of this momentous occasion please let Fr Hyginus or the parish office know.
Please advise the Parish Office of omissions and or corrections that need/ought to be made to this very merger rendition of the remarkable history of the parish of Our Lady of Grace – North Beach, June 2022.