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150th Anniversary of Immaculate Conception Church

1869 to 2019 - Celebrating 150 years of serving the community

The Immaculate Conception Church Hawthorn was consecrated and opened on October 10th 1869, and in 2019 we celebrated this milestone in our parish.

We hope you enjoy the glimpses into the past via the photographs and articles below which highlight the history of the church and parish.

ICC 150th Anniversary Events

On Sunday 6th October 2019 the 150th Anniversary of the consecration of Immaculate Conception Church was commemorated at a special Mass celebrated by Melbourne Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli, who was joined by Jesuit Provincial Fr Brian McCoy SJ and Parish Priest Fr Des Dwyer SJ.

Those attending the Mass listened to an inspiring homily by Archbishop Comensoli.    
'Faith is a light to be fanned into a blazing fire, not typically left on the mantelpiece to give off a reassuring glow', said the Archbishop,
'The gift of faith that Christ set alight 150 years ago still needs fanning and still needs fanners … You stand on the sacred ground of those Christian disciples who went before you who did not demand “give us more faith” but humbly declared “we are his servants”.’

The choir delighted the congregation with beautiful music, including a new musical setting for the Hail Mary composed by Fr Christopher Willcock SJ (Listen here; see sheet music).

The Mass was followed by a light lunch and gathering on the lawn, during which the raffle was drawn. As part of the celebration St Joseph’s Primary School Principal, Sharon Kenyon-Smith, presented a time capsule prepared by the students and blessed by Archbishop Comensoli (see details of time capsule). A framed portrait gallery of all the Parish Priests of Hawthorn over the last 150 years was also gifted to Fr Des Dwyer.

At another event, on Sunday 11th August, eminent historian, Dr Joan Barclay Lloyd, presented a most informative lecture entitled ‘Faith, Family and Fine Art: Reflections of the Architecture and Stained Glass Windows in Immaculate Conception, Hawthorn’.

In addition, an enchanting Musical Prelude was performed by Georgina Docherty, Han Cahyono and Krishna Martin.


A Spring Concert was held on Sunday 8th September featuring the charming music of St Joseph’s School String Duet and the School Choir of students from Year 3 to Year 6, Xavier College Senior Singers, Hawthorn U3A Orchestra (conductor Julie Lancashire), Georgina Docherty, Han Cahyono, Gabriel and Raphael C., Fiona Dyball, Patrick Shannon, Ben Colley-McKinley, Jane Schleiger, Heather Stockart and Yu Lin. The historic George Fincham organ was showcased by Vincent A. (Xavier College), Simon and Lucas D’C. (Whitefriars College) and Maureen Mahon.


Our Parish 1869 to 2019 (an online exhibition)

Various historical items which featured throughout the 150th Anniversary year were compiled by Kevin Slattery. Appreciation to Fr Michael Head, from whose history much of the material comes and his assistant Liz Parker who supplied many of the photos. 

The narrated slideshow below provides a brief summary of the history of Immaculate Conception Church and the people of Hawthorn Catholic Parish.

Enjoy browsing below the more detailed items created for the 150th Anniversary Historical Exhibition which was scheduled to be held in the Hawthorn Arts Precinct. The full set of Weekly articles which were published in 2019 is also included.

(Click/Tap Item to view PDF of each article and photographs)

icc-new-2 sketched via paint no wires ti

Immaculate Conception Church 1869 -2019

Dialogue Mass men coming out of church e

Men's Sacred Heart Confraternity

Vi Feil as a girl cropped exhib thumb ti

Two special parishioners - Bill Box and Vi Feil

Fr Nolan cropped exhib thumb tiny

Pioneer priest and founder of our parish church

manresa orchestra 1920 exhib thumb2 tiny

A rich musical history from the earliest days

St Johns 1951 exhib thumb tiny

St. Joseph's, St. John's, Lyndale, Kilmaire

Sir John O'Shanassy exhib thumb tiny

Four extraordinary parishioners

Manresa Musical Society exhib thumb tiny

Manresa Musical Society - operettas and more

Fr Harper exhib thumb tiny

Fr John (Johannes) Peifer and Fr Pat Harper

Manresa Cub Scouts exhib thumb tiny

Hawthorn 12th (Manresa) Scouts and Cubs

advocate icon exhib thumb tiny

Original newspaper reports of ICC history

weekly items book cover

Collection of all the weekly articles published in 2019 


Parish History in detail

A Personal Reflection on The Old Bank Building

You call it "The Old Bank Building". When Father John Bourke was our parish priest, he called it "The Curia" but the parishioners, up to fairly recent times, always referred to it as "The Club".  


An appeal to History (Fr Michael Head, SJ)

"An Appeal to History" The Immaculate Conception church building tells the story, generation by generation of the people who worshipped here and it has long been a symbol of the presence of Christ in this parish and the faith of those who came before us.

Hawthorn - The Story (Fr Michael Head SJ)

The story of the Hawthorn Catholic parish


History Of the Hawthorn Mission (Father Morgan O'Brien)

In the colonial days of the early "forties", when the immigrants from the "old country" were encamped on the Yarra flats, the timbered slopes of what was called Boroondara ("the place of shade") had already been occupied by pioneer squatters. Then a great influx of Catholics took place in the gold days. See more in the History of the Hawthorn Mission

Manresa Hall - The Apollo Theatre (Ian Smith)

The Apollo Theatre (the re-badged Manresa Hall) had a short life as an independent cinema when the Glen closed its doors in about 1933. The theatre was an initiative of the Jesuit Order of the Immaculate Conception Church. 


Men's Sacred Heart Confraternity (The Messenger)

A visitor to the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Hawthorn (Vic.) on any first Sunday of the month at the eight o'clock Mass cannot fail to be impressed by the sight that will meet his eyes as men and boys from all corners of the parish converge to the high stone spire of Immaculate Conception church for the Men's Sacred Heart Confraternity.

Our Resurrection Wall

Our Resurrection Wall in the south-west corner of the Immaculate Conception church garden is a sacred place to remember, pray for and commune with our deceased loved ones. 


Parish History (Fr Paul)

​Fr Paul's history of Hawthorn parish is available for sale from the Parish Office . The books cost $20 each.

Some Personal Recollections (Margaret de Vries)

Over the years, what is now known as the Bank Building has been known under various guises and titles - the Kindergarten, the Library building, the Club Rooms, 3,4,5, the Youth Club, the Bamboo Room, etc


Stained glass windows (The South Bourke Standard)

A meeting of the Catholics of Hawthorn was held in the church of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday last, for the purpose of allotting the eight stained glass windows to those parishioners who had volunteered subscriptions for their purchase. 

Immaculate Conception church history
Fancy Dress Ball
ICC stained glass - Lourdes
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