Sacred Heart Catholic parish is located within the old Sacred Heart Monastery, which was owned by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and opened by Archbishop Mannix in April 1939. The complex included a chapel, library, cloisters, classrooms, refectory, kitchens and domestic offices. Accommodation was provided for 65 students, 10 priests and several lay brothers.Due to declining numbers, at the end of 1985, the location for seminary studies was changed to apartments in Drummoyne, Sydney.
In 1991 the monastery and a surrounding parcel of 5 hectares of land was sold to the Archdiocese of Melbourne to serve as the parish centre of Croydon and East Ringwood. In 1993 the new parish of Sacred Heart, Croydon, was established using the monastery and chapel as its centre of worship and community activities.
A primary school was built to the rear of the monastery. This school opened in 2000 and now has 350 students. It uses part of the lower floor of the monastery as its offices and staff rooms.
From 1993 to 2002 the monastery was regularly used as a retreat and meeting centre, taking advantage of its unique facilities, serenity, historic ambience and community spirit.
The original chapel was extended in 2000 to handle the greater number of people attending Mass from the merged Croydon and East Ringwood parishes. It now seats 500.
By 2002 the buildings had fallen into disrepair. Land around the monastery, including the original oval, was set aside for the construction of a retirement village, Mingarra. This project was at first owned by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart but has since been sold to a private investment group. An aged-care hostel is part of the retirement village.
The monastery building is heritage listed and the parish hopes to maintain the heritage of the monastery as a place of learning, spiritual living and a communal hub for the surrounding district.
Parish Priest: Fr Leonard Size
Fr Size was ordained an Anglican minister in 1991 and a Catholic priest in 2000. He was appointed to Sacred Heart in August 2008, his first parish priest role in the Archdiocese, as he was previously Chaplain at St Vincent’s Hospital.
Fr Size says: “This is a very exciting time for the parish, with our new hall and plans for the retreat centre. The community is fantastic and includes members of former parishes at Wonga Park, Croydon and East Ringwood all working together.”
Parish Secretary: Susan Boysen
Sacred Heart is a wonderful parish, and I am very proud to be a part of it. I began working here in September 2000 after seeing an ad for the position while at Mass at a neighbouring parish. Currently the roof of the monastery is being repaired with the assistance of a grant from Heritage Victoria. We then hope it grows into a thriving retreat centre.
My role involves looking after groups that want to stay or use our facilities, taking parishioner inquiries, booking rooms, taking care of accounts, organising our Sunday press, organising baptisms and organising sacraments for children from government and independent schools and so on. Lynn, another secretary, works every Friday while I take a day off.
One thing I have learned is not to stress – nothing is impossible. When things get overwhelming, just call in a few parishioners and the work is done! Where else can you do that?
Source: Kairos: Volume 21, Issue 22