1788First European settlers arrive in Australia
May 1848NSW sheriff Adolphus William Young conveyed two lots of land at Balmain to Archbishop Polding as a gift.
4 September 1848Foundation stone laid for first St Augustine’s church at Balmain, by Archbishop Polding.
13 April 1851First mass celebrated in old St Augustine’s church
27 February 1852St Augustine’s denominational school first opened in rented accommodation in Balmain. In subsequent years the school was conducted in the church building.
May 1854Fr Downing OSA was appointed the first resident priest for Balmain.
May 1856Fr Therry became parish priest in Balmain
April 1864The old St Augustine’s church had been extended westward by 20 feet, and a choir gallery had been added.
25 May 1864Fr Therry died in St Augustine’s first presbytery
7 September 1864Five sisters of the Good Shepherd came to Balmain to form the first branch convent of the Order.
1865A temporary schoolhouse (called Fr Dillon schoolhouse) was built next to the old church to house the school.
22 April 1877Blessing and opening of the convent of the Immaculate Conception
17 April 1887Blessing and opening of the Christian brothers monastery and school in Thames Street.
7 October 1906Foundation stone laid for current St Augustine’s church, by Cardinal Moran.
1 December 1907Dedication of the current St Augustine’s church
1908Girls school moved into old church, following the opening of the new St Augustines church. The girl’s school remained there until 1917.
April 1917Fr Rohan purchased the public school building on the corner of Eaton Street and Gladstone Street.
10 March 1918Blessing and opening of St Augustine’s girls school (where the current Fr John Therry school is)
30 November 1952Blessing and opening of Fr Michael Rohan Memorial building, after adding a second floor to the St Augustine’s girls school.
23 May 1996Blessing and opening of the Fr John Therry school, following the amalgamation of St Joseph’s school Rozelle with St Augustine’s Balmain school.

Father John Therry

Fr John Therry was born in Cork, Ireland in 1790 and was ordained in 1815.  He came to Australia as an officially appointed Chaplain along with Fr Phillip Conolly in May 1820.  Previously the colony had received 3 convict priests.  In 1800 Frs Harold, Dixon and O’Neill were transported to Sydney and soon started gathering Catholics together and celebrating Masses.  However, Catholics were viewed with suspicion and the Masses and gatherings were soon banned.

Fr Jeremiah O’Flynn arrived in 1817 with no official appointment to the colony.  Governor Macquarie would not accept him and he was deported in 1818.

By the time Frs Therry & Conolly arrived, conditions for Catholics were dire.  Governor Macquarie, who was partial to the Protestant church made it difficult for the priests to do their job, issuing rules that prohibited the priests ministering to Catholics.

Fr Conolly left for Van Diemen’s Land in 1821, Fr Therry was left to look after the mainland.  He covered a lot of lands, often travelling through the night and in dangerous conditions.

In response to the Orphan Schools that were established by the Government, and where Catholic children were forced to receive Protestant instruction, Fr Therry opened two small Catholic schools in Parramatta and Sydney in 1822.  Unfortunately, the schools were not successful due to a lack of funding and closed soon after.

Fr Therry constantly agitated and irritated the government of the day, for the rights of Catholics and the marginalised Aboriginal people.  From around 1825 Fr Therry was fired as Catholic Chaplain.  He was misquoted in The Gazette, and consequently was removed from his post.  However, he continued ministering in spite of this.

In 1826 Fr Power was appointed Catholic Chaplain in place of Fr Therry.  Fr Power was not a well man and he died in Sydney in 1830.  In 1831 Fr Dowling arrived in Sydney and took over as official chaplain to the colony.  Fr Therry was not reinstated as the official Catholic Chaplain until 1837 – all the while not receiving a wage, and living off the kindness of others and his own resourcefulness.

Fr Therry had a grand plan for a Catholic Church in the new colony from the time he first commenced his chaplaincy, and in 1821 Fr Therry and Governor Macquarie set aside their differences to lay the foundation stone of St Mary’s Cathedral, however it took another ten years before the roof was laid.

Fr Therry purchased land, was gifted land and was granted land to build the churches and schools that are now part of our rich Catholic history.  Fr Therry is noted as being the priest to build more churches within Australia than any other priest that has come after him.

Father John Joseph Therry was appointed Parish Priest of Balmain in 1856 and died there in 1864.