A report in the Advertiser dated 2 July 1863 stated: “On Monday 29 June (1863), the ceremony of opening the new Catholic Chapel at Hectorville was performed…after which Mass was celebrated. Independently of the advantages of a regular place of worship, a school will be held on weekdays. It is certain that no effort will be spared by the Catholics of Hectorville and its vicinity to liquidate the outstanding debt immediately.”
So thus began the Hectorville story. The school was conducted by a Lay Teacher (Miss McMahon) until 1870 when the Sisters of St Joseph, guided by their founder, St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop took charge of the school.
The building referred to was the first Catholic Church/School erected on the eastern side of Adelaide and was also the first church on the Hectorville site. It is still standing alongside the gate into the school yard from North Street, Hectorville. It served as both church and school from 1863 until 1917 when another church was built in North Street. This building is no longer owned by the Catholic Church.
The original building continued to be used as a school until 1937 when two new classrooms were erected alongside the North Street fence. The original building was then used for various purposes including dances, social functions and as the school canteen until 1988 when a new canteen was erected as part of a school redevelopment plan. The building is now used as a storeroom for the school.
From 1863, Mass was celebrated at Hectorville by priests who resided at the Archbishop’s House at West Terrace, Adelaide. They probably traveled from the City either on horseback or by horse and cart. Early priests to celebrate Mass at Hectorville included Fathers John Smyth, Patrick Russell and Frederick Byrne.
In 1869 Bishop Lawrence Shiel OFM formed the parish of Norwood and invited the Jesuit Fathers who had been at Sevenhill since 1848 to take charge of it. It was known as the Norwood Mission and included the whole of the eastern side of Adelaide and the Hectorville area.
In 1934 new parishes were formed at Dulwich-Burnside, Hectorville and St Peters. Later Tranmere (1944) and Newton (1961) were established as separate parishes.
Father Patrick Tangney was the first Parish Priest at Hectorville and remained until 1956 when Father (later Dean) Louis Travers was appointed. During the next ten years the parish developed rapidly.
The second church in which parishioners worshiped for 46 years became unsuitable due to the rapid development of the area in the late 1950’s and so, on 29 June 1962, the 99th anniversary of the opening of the first church, Archbishop Matthew Beovich laid the foundation stone for the third (present) church of the Annunciation which was subsequently opened on 23 December 1962. Another church (St Mark’s) was built in Reid Avenue, Magill and opened on 23 April 1961.
During the time that Msgr. David Cappo was the Parish Priest (1996-2000) several alterations were made to the church. These included the demolition of the Baptistery at the front of the church, painting of the outside of the building, a new Sanctuary, and the installation of air-conditioning. A room previously used a confessional was converted to a crying room for small children.
Since 2012, under the leadership of Fr. Anthoni Adimai, improvements made include a new toilet block, facilities for disabled car parking and the installation of a data projector system. In 2016 extensive renovations were made including the installation of a new roof, painting of the interior and exterior of the church, new air conditioning and a new sound system with the updating of the data projector.
This is a brief outline of the history of the Hectorville Parish. As we reflect on more than 150 years of Masses being celebrated and Sacraments administered, let us give thanks to God for the dedicated efforts of those pioneer priests and families who made tremendous sacrifices to firmly establish the Catholic faith in this area.