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St Joseph’s Church

History of St. Joseph’s Church


Our Humble Beginnings


Opening of St. Joseph’s Church Sunday 24-May-1914

Picture this: back in the early 1900s, our West Guildford community had to trek to St. Mary’s in Guildford for Mass. That changed in 1912 when Fr. Thomas Morris celebrated the very first Mass in the hall of the Road Board right here in West Guildford (or as we now know it, the wonderful Bassendean). Mass became a regular affair, twice every Sunday in the Road Board’s Basement, offering convenience for our local Catholics who no longer had to lace up their walking shoes for each service.

Fast forward to 1913, and it was clear that our community was growing. Fr. Morris decided it was time for a more permanent home. He acquired four blocks of land between Hamilton and James Streets.

Now, our very first church rose from the ground, a mix of brick and iron. And on a special Sunday – May 24, 1914 – His Grace Archbishop Clune sprinkled his blessings and consecrated our new church. The place was bursting with joy, filled to the brim with a congregation eager to celebrate this momentous occasion. And so, that’s how our journey began – with warmth, growth, and a whole lot of heart.

The Church, a labor of love, was dedicated to Saint Joseph. Fr. Masterson celebrated the very first blessing Mass, marking the beginning of a dual role for our cherished space. It wasn’t just a place of worship on weekends; it also opened its doors as a school for our Catholic children during the week, fostering both spiritual and educational growth from day one.

Fr Thomas Morris

Fr Thomas Morris
Following the opening of our cherished church, our Catholic parishioners applied to the sisters of Mercy to establish a school. In July 1914, a humble four-roomed cottage, constructed with weatherboard and iron roofing on Lot 46 James Street, became home to the Sisters of Mercy. On July 18, after Mass celebrations, the sisters, led by Mother Brigid, joyfully took residence in the cottage. The demand for education led to expansions at the church. Verandahs were added to accommodate students, and by 1915, jarrah wooden floors adorned these spaces. In 1921, the open verandahs were enclosed, and in 1922, windows were installed, creating a more comfortable learning environment. Fast forward to 1922 when a competition to rename West Guildford took place. A young student named Sylvia Sharman, attending our school, was a co-winner for suggesting the name “Bassendean,” which officially replaced West Guildford in July 1922. In 1916, Father Thomas O’Gorman took on the role of the first Parish Priest, overseeing both Guildford and West Guildford (Bassendean). Recognizing the need for more space for the sisters, he acquired additional plots of land in 1922. These acquisitions paved the way for the construction of a two-storied brick Convent, opened on January 17, 1926, by His Grace Archbishop Clune. The Convent, with its solid brick piers and arches, provided a comfortable residence for the Sisters of Mercy. After the Convent’s opening, the old house used by the Nuns was repurposed for music rooms and storage but tragically caught fire in July 1935.

Father Michael Thomas McCaul

Fr Michael Thomas

First Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Bassendean
From 29/01/1948 to 17/08/1958

A Time of Growth and Community Spirit.

In February 1948, Saint Joseph’s Parish Bassendean emerged as a separate entity from Guildford. On March 7, 1948, two Masses were offered for the first time, marking a significant moment in our parish history. Reverend Fr. Michael Thomas McCaul, appointed as the first Parish Priest on January 29, 1948, played a pivotal role in shaping our community. Born in Fremantle on October 15, 1912, and ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral Perth on December 11, 1938, Fr. McCaul’s journey included serving as an RAAF Chaplain during World War II.

In July 1948, Fr. McCarthy OMI conducted a week-long mission, fostering spiritual growth within our community. Efforts were made to address the needs of our growing community, including plans for a new Convent school. The old school, overcrowded and in disrepair, prompted action to improve facilities and create a better learning environment for our Catholic children. By March 1949, a Presbytery at 15 Parker Street, Bassendean, was acquired, with a section of the house being let to offset financial burdens on the Parish.

Fr. McCaul with first Communicants

Fr McCaul with First Communicants
Bell Tower in 1981

Ringing in Tradition: Bell Tower and School Expansion

In 1951, a significant addition to our parish came in the form of a bell purchased from the Cathedral on July 20. The bell, dating back to 1867 from the John Murphy foundry in Dublin, Ireland, found its home atop a bell tower. Construction on the bell tower concluded in April 1952. A stainless-steel cross for the tower’s peak was supplied by R. G. Arnold, Sheet Metal Engineers, Maylands. Unfortunately, the original bell tower was dismantled in 1981 due to safety concerns and the need for space for school extensions and a playground.

The foundation for a new school was laid in February 1951, presenting financial and material challenges. Under the watchful eye of supervisor Stan Costello, the 5-roomed school was eventually completed and officially opened on February 1, 1953.

Fr William Brown

Fr William Brown

In August 1958, Fr. William Browne assumed the role of the second Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Church. Born in Middletown, County Cork, Ireland, in 1915, Fr. Browne was educated at All Hallows College Dublin, Ireland, and ordained in 1939. He served as Parish Priest of Bassendean from May 24, 1958, to March 1967, leaving a lasting impact on our community. Fr. Browne passed away in Inglewood at the age of 60.

Recognizing the need for expansion, the Church, which had stood unaltered since its construction in 1913/14, underwent a transformative enlargement. This vital project, initiated under Fr. Browne’s leadership, doubled the Church’s original length. The lean-to style verandahs were replaced, making room for a new confessional, Baptistery, and organ loft. Under the capable hands of Mr. Stan Costello, the tin roof of the old section was replaced with tiles, giving the entire building a fresh look.

On July 26, 1959, His Grace, Archbishop Prendiville, blessed and officially opened the expanded building. To mark the occasion, an anonymous parishioner generously gifted a pulpit, which found its place in the Church on the opening day.

St Joseph;s Church after the extensions in July 1959

St. Joseph’s Church after extensions in July 1959

Altar in St Joseph's Church after extensions in July 1959

The Altar in St. Joseph’s Church after extensions in July 1959.

St Joseph's Church Choir 1960s

St. Joseph’s Church Choir 1960’s