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St Malachys Catholic Church

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Fast Facts
Type of organisation: Religious

Street name: Wasleys
Street suffix: road
Town or locality: Mallala
Date established: 1882
Established by: Dr. Reynolds
Business or purpose: Religious services and education
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On April 16th 1882 the Bishop of Adelaide Dr. Reynolds laid the foundation stone of St. Malachys Catholic Church. It was located on the corner of Wasleys road and Elizabeth street Mallala and the land had been donated by Mr. Peter Farrelly. Many fund raising events were held to pay for the cost of the building including an annual picnic and a Bazaar. The stone for the building was quarried and carted from the property of Mr Henry Augustine Judd at Dublin and each trip would take a day. A small chapel was erected and on the 19th. November 1882 it was opened and blessed. Father Byrne, a Carmelite priest based in Gawler, was placed in charge and he serviced the Mallala area.

In 1912 due to lack of space to accommodate the growing congregation, it was agreed to renovate and enlarge the building and the work was placed in the hands of architects Messrs Woods and Bagot with local builder Mr Cheney winning the building contract.

The formal ceremony of reopening and blessing of St Malachys church was held on 14th March 1913 and performed by the Very Reverend T.F.O'Neil P.P. of Gawler and assisted by the Rev. Father Barrett. The congregation was very large - some motoring long distances. Father O'Neil then celebrated Mass and a combined choir from Mallala and Hamley Bridge was applauded for their efforts.

On 26th August 1914 a Bazaar was held by the Catholic community and the Rev. Father Denny asked Lady Butler to declare the fair open. Mr H.E. Hallion proposed a vote of thanks and was seconded by Mr. J.J. McCabe. Lady Butler responded. "Great credit is due to the ladies who worked assiduously to make the fair a success" The Bazaar was open for two days and raised an amount of 250 pounds. The event concluded with a dance for the young people until the wee small hours of the morning.

All the church windows are dedicated to the memory of the pioneers of the congregation as follows:

  • Henry and Bridget Judd and family,
  • Henry and Janet Hallion,
  • Patrick and Mary Farrelly,
  • Parents of George and Wilhemina West and family,
  • Parents of George - brother of John Hall,
  • Daniel and Catherine Fahey and family,
  • Parents of James and Mary Hall,
  • Parents of Thomas and Emily Ormsby.

The furnishings carry plaques naming the donors. The building is well painted and is set in an area of shrubs and trees. The property was enhanced when the fence was renewed, and the retaining of the original gates is significant in recognising the wonderful history of the building.

Records received from the archivist Catholic Church office, Adelaide S.A:

Priests who have served Mallala from 1882:

  • 1882 - 1902:

Father Byrne

Father Kelly, O.C.C.

Father Patrick Carr, O.C.C.

Father Magennis

Father Murphy

Father Kindelan, O.C.C.

In 1902 the Carmelites moved from Gawler to Pt. Adelaide and the secular priests took charge.

  • 1903 - Father T.F. O'Neil assisted by Father F. Adamson
  • 1903-1903 - Father O'Neil assisted by Father E. Phelam
  • 1906 - Father J.A. Kindelan while Father O'Neil was in Ireland
  • 1907-1909 - Father T.F. O'Neil
  • 1910 - Father T.F. O'Neil and Father C. James
  • 1911-1914 - Father O'Neil and Father Michael Brady
  • 1915-1923 - Father R.P. Denny
  • 1924 - Father F. Kenny M.S.C.
  • 1925-1928 - Father R.P. Denny
  • 1929 - vacant
  • 1939-1934 - Father J.A. Gatzemeyer
  • 1935-1947 - Father R. Farrelly
  • 1948-1949 - Father W. Connors, M.S.C.
  • 1949-1950 - Father R. Farrelly
  • 1950-1954 - Father W. Connors (relieving until Father Noone was appointed)
  • 1954-1980 - Father E. Noone
  • 1980-1986 - Father Patrick Kelly
  • 1986-1994 - Father Kevin Hay
  • 1994-1997 - Father David Thoroughgood
  • 1997-2001 - Father Stephen Brooks, also Parish Priest of Balaklava
  • 2001 - Father Jack Boog, also Parish Priest of Balaklava

St Malachy’s since 2010 With the departure of Fr Jack Boog through ill health in late 2009/early 2010, the Catholic community at St Malachy’s, along with those of Hamley Bridge, Balaklava and Pt Wakefield, were in a bit of a vacuum for ministry.

Fortunately, two “retired” Sisters of Mercy, Sr Marita Mullins and Sr Mary Harvey, had been living in the presbytery at Hamley Bridge. They stepped up to help cover some of the needs.

Through their connections with older priests who no longer were in parish ministry, they were able to organise priests for Mass on some Sunday’s. They had already been preparing parishioners for leading Liturgies of the Word with Communion. This now became essential. For a funeral and for Reconciliation during Lent they were able to get a neighbouring Parish Priest, Fr Mark Sexton from Barossa/Kapunda to help. They were also supported by the priest chaplain for Xavier College in Gawler.

Barossa and Kapunda parishes had been having a major rethink as to their own structures of ministry. This resulted in major changes into how they were structured. Eventually the diocese approached these communities to see whether they felt they could include the four communities of Mallala, Hamley Bridge, Pt Wakefield and Balaklava within this. After some discussion it was felt that this could be done.

As a result, on 19 November 2010 a new parish was created from what had been four – Barossa, Kapunda, Hamley Bridge and Balaklava. The new parish covered roughly 8,000 sq km, with 8 churches. These were St Malachy’s in Mallala, St Vincent de Paul in Pt Wakefield, St Andrew’s (Balaklava), Our Lady of the Nativity (Hamley Bridge), Saints John and Paul (Tarlee), St Benedict’s (Freeling), St Rose’s(Kapunda) and Our Lady of the Valley (Nuriootpa). The first Parish Priest was Fr Mark Sexton.

A concern within the process of coming together was to ensure that each community, especially the smaller ones kept their own identity and autonomy. There was concern that no community was subsumed – or felt it was – within the larger grouping. One way of achieving this was the choice of a new parish name and patron saint. Thus while each community kept its own identity a “neutral” name was needed.

The Josephite Sisters and Mary MacKillop had been active parts in each of the areas of the new parish. In addition, the Light River ran through parts of each. Mary was due to be canonised in 2011. So the new grouping was given the name “St Mary of the Cross MacKillop Northern Light Catholic parish” – usually shortened to “Northern Light”. As far as we know, we were the first community to take St Mary as our patron saint. The Northern Light Parish commenced on 1 Jan 2011.

Two decisions were made early on. No church was going to be closed and each community was to gather each Sunday, regardless. As a priest can only celebrate 3 Masses in a day, this required each community, including the larger ones, to regularly celebrate a lay led service, the Liturgy of the Word with Communion. Where Fr Mark could not be present, he wrote the homily(sermon) and it was emailed to the leader to be read. This took a lot of pressure of the leaders!

As the new community began to settle down in 2011, Fr Mark (who is also an Army Reserve chaplain –padre) announced that he was being deployed to Afghanistan for six months from June of 2011! This did mean though that everybody had to work together – there was no priest to blame!

Thanks to a legacy left by a parishioner, Monica Farrelly, St Malachy’s was able to get a complete renovation. The Monica Farrelly Bequest of $200,000 was received by the Northern Light Parish on 15 October 2013."Under the terms of the will the bequest is for the general purposes for St Malachys Catholic Church at Mallala".The renovations were completed in 2015. All the plaster was stripped back and redone then painted. The opportunity was taken to do some extra work with plumbing and the outside of the church. 2015, of course, was also the year of the devastating Pinery Fire.

The St Malachy’s community continues to worship together each Sunday.

Related Articles


  • Mallala Museum research
  • St. Malachys Mallala 120th Anniversary Booklet 2002
  • Father Mark Sexton 2019
Saint Malachy's Church Mallala
Saint Malachy's Church Mallala
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St Malachy's church Mallala

Memories of St Malachys Catholic Church

Mallala Museum volunteer remembers: Research as follows on St. Malachy: Mael Maedoc Ua Morgair was born in Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1094. He became the Archbishop of Armagh & was the first native-born Irishman to be canonised. He died on 2nd. November 1148.

Do you remember St Malachys Catholic Church ? Then Join up and add your memory here.

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